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Vol. 44, No. 3 NOVEMBER-DECEMBER, 1915 Whole No. 136 



By Colonel JOHN W. RUCKMAN, Coast Artillery Corps 

Introductory Remarks 

In the beginning of 1904 Port Arthur was a Russian 
station and had been designated as the official winter station 
for the Russian fleet. The prominence attached to it by the 
Russians and its importance to Japan, made it a matter of 
contention from the earliest moment of the war. As it afforded 
a reasonably good refuge for the opposing fleet it became 
imperative for Japan to destroy it at the earliest possible date. 

The earlier history of the place and the manner in which 
it became a Russian possession will throw some light upon the 
present issue and help to clear up certain points that may 
come up later. 

Historical Sketch of Port Arthur 

early policies 

Six days after the French and British allies had withdrawn 
from Peking in 1860, Russia and China concluded a treaty of 
the highest importance to Russia, whereby the eastern coast 
of Manchuria from the Amur to the Korean frontier, a district 
known later as the Maritime Province, was ceded to Russia. 
This and other efforts by Russia to approach the coast of the 
Sea of Japan were viewed by Japan with apprehension. Dur- 
ing the period between 1861 and 1894 China and Japan 



had several differences concerning Korea. In 1885 an agree- 
ment was drawn up which continued until 1894 when a re- 
bellion broke out in the Korean province. In the existing 
arrangement China and Japan were to have equal power in 
regulating Korea and each maintained a specified force in this 
country. In case either increased its force the other country 
was to be notified at once. In 1894, China, at the outbreak 
of the rebellion, sent 2000 troops to the scene and notified 
Japan. The latter occupied Fusan and Chemulpo with a 
mixed brigade. Japan had by this time become tired of the 
conditions of misrule there and, as China still claimed suze- 
rainty over the province, insisted upon some guaranty of 
stable government in the province, and demanded reforms 
therein. But to this China refused to accede and after some 
delay and fruitless negotiations, hostilities began resulting in 
the Chino-Japanese war. 

Japan was successful and China sued for peace, and the 
result of peace negotiations was a treaty drawn up at Shimo- 
noseki, Japan, in which China recognized the full and com- 
plete independence of Korea, ceded Formosa, the Pescadores, 
and the Laiotung Peninsula, and paid an indemnity of about 
25,000,000 pounds sterling. The provision ceding the Laio- 
tung Peninsula to Japan, if carried into effect would crush 
Russia's hopes for an open port on the Pacific and the dis- 
memberment of China might be indefinitely postponed. Be- 
fore this treaty was ratified France, Germany, and Russia 
joined in suggesting to Japan that she should forego the claim 
to territory on the mainland as it would threaten the lasting 
peace of the Far East. Japan was not prepared to resist such 
a combination and accepted the advice of the three powers, 
receiving about 5,000,000 pounds sterling instead of the 
Laiotung Peninsula. 


During the Boxer rebellion Russia occupied Manchuria 
and under the final treaty thereafter, Russia was to evacuate 
that province. The evacuation of the territory was to take 
place in three sections of six months each. The first took 
place on time but the second did not and upon inquiry 
by the Chinese Minister as to the matter Russia presented 
seven requirements that should be fulfilled before evacuation 
would be continued; it was evident that China would not 
yield thereto. Great Britain, the United States and Japan 


formally lodged complaint against these new Russian demands, 
and finally on the 20th of April China refused compliance 
therewith. After this there was much negotiation, and many 
efforts were made to come to an agreement upon the ques- 
tions. On January 13, 1904, Japan replied for the last time 
and pressed an early answer since it was known that Russia 
was improving her army and navy in the Far East. On 
February 6th negotiations were broken off by Japan and the 
Japanese Minister informed the Russian government that he 
had been directed to withdraw from Russia. Port Arthur was 
attacked on the night of the 8th of February. 


Although Port Arthur, previous to its occupation by the 
Japanese in 1894, was an inconspicuous fishing village, it had 
increased in importance in a political and strategical sense as 
time went on, and in 1903 and 1904 became an important 
prize for which both nations were about to strive in a titanic 
struggle. At the beginning of the war a large part of the 
Russian fleet was based on Port Arthur and at that time 
their Pacific fleet was substantially equal to, if not superior 
to the fleet of Japan. 

Japan had never forgotten or forgiven the action of the 
powers which had deprived her of her just reward of victory, 
and quietly bided her time when an opportunity would be 
presented for retaking the place by force. For ten years she 
silently prepared for that event. Japan therefore, in 1904, 
had sentimental as well as political and economical reasons 
for her great and persistent efforts against Port Arthur. 

The importance of Port Arthur, the proportion, duration 
and unique methods employed in the siege, present to the 
mflitary student a wide field for investigation. The inform- 
ation that a careful analysis will extract therefrom will be 
valuable and useful in reference to similar cases in the future. 
In some respects use has already been made of deductions 
from study of the conditions in the fortress during 1904.* So 
far as is known to the writer, however, the benefits resulting 
from such study have been chiefly limited to material consid- 
erations; no treatment of the subject as herein proposed has 
been observed. Material defects are usually the first to be 

* The defense of Port Arthur. Von Schwartz and Romanovski. 

The Influence of the Experience of the Siege of Port Arthur upon the 
Construction of Modern Fortresses. Von Schwartz. 


noticed, and are most easily identified and corrected. Any 
one can detect them and as a rule suggest a remedy. 

In matters of organization and administration, where the 
element in man alone is involved, the subject is complex from 
the start, and successful operation demands the highest 
qualifications. In fact, complexities arise at every turn. The 
chief who is charged with the solution of such a problem 
should be firm, persistent, patriotic, of wide experience in 
human nature, keen in fathoming motives, of high integrity, 
and possess sufficient knowledge and ability to command 
respect and at least a certain amount of admiration from his 

The present case presents a composite result for consider- 
ation, with evidence as to the procedure of several of the 
prominent actors. 

As the drama enacted at Port Arthur unfolds, it will be 
seen that all the motives, both positive and negative, which 
actuate men, played their parts and seriously complicated 
the stage setting and, in many cases, nullified the achieve- 
ments of the players. Motives of patriotism and treachery, 
courage and fear, generosity and envy, friendship and hate, 
truth and falsehood, efiiciency and incompentency, wisdom 
and ignorance, criticism and flattery, strove so actively at 
cross purposes that the exact influence of each will never be 
known. In the present controversy we are dealing with the 
past actions of a group of human beings under great strain. 
To estimate, separately, the effect of each of the numerous 
mental, moral, and psychological agencies that were operating 
in, through, and amongst this group of men differing widely 
in character and antecedents, would be desirable but is impos- 
sible owing to incomplete data and lapse of time. 

In our problem it is evident that deficient facilities, 
incompetent personnel, lack of definite ideals, non-arrival of 
reinforcements from the outside and a thousand other influ- 
ences might react upon the situation and materially affect the 
outcome and thereby reduce this quest to an apparently hope- 
less undertaking. 

The real issue is to eliminate from the result the effects of 
all agencies except those pertaining to Organization and Ad- 
ministration of the Fortress and through the process ascertain 
whether or not the systems in use were satisfactory or other- 
wise, and definitely identify any defects that may be found to 
exist therein. In the future, efficient systems of organization 


and administration will be required for our own large commands 
and even a knowledge of the defects of former systems will 
teach us what to avoid in our service and will go a long way 
towards establishing our own systems upon sound bases, and 
producing structures to withstand the test of war. 

Sources and Nature of Evidence Available 

To arrive at definite conclusions credible evidence must be 
obtained. Published accounts of the great siege are abundant 
but in many cases the statements can not be verified, or 
compared with reliable standards. In the following ac- 
count doubtful statements have not been considered, and all 
matter has been carefully sifted and examined in the light of 
authoritative accounts in order to secure conclusions of rea- 
sonable accuracy. 

After reading many volumes relating to the siege it was 
decided to accept the translation of the report of the Russian 
General Staff* as the most reliable basis of comparison and 
measure of accuracy. This report appears to be fair and not 
to favor anyone where criticism is due, makes no effort to 
cover defects and wrong doing where they exist and, in general, 
the statements agree with same made by independent writers 
just after the capitulation. 

The report of the Russian General Staff and other reliable 
sources show that the organization of the fortress was very 
backward and was scarcely begun when the attack was made. 
On this date all considerations with respect to the administra- 
tion of the fortress, just in process of formation, were matters 
for the future. The outbreak of war brought such urgent and 
rapid demands upon the authorities for organization and 
administration that little or no time was available for study 
of the needs of the case and perfect systems could not be 
expected. Surprise therefore need not arise from defects 
which came to the surface but from the fact that anything 
practicable was developed and adopted. The great siege has 
come and gone and it might be permitted to rest in peace 
were it not for the value that is to be gained from digging 
down into it once more for the purpose of ascertaining the 
sound principles which its systems embraced and the unsound 
ones which should be avoided in the future. 

About two years after the capitulation, Nojine, official 

* Translated by First Lieutenant Walter J. Biittgenbach, Coast Artillery 
Corps, United States Army. 


Russian war correspondent at Port Arthur, during the siege, 
and in charge of the Novy Kry in the fortress wrote a book 
entitled The Truth about Port Arthur, in which he presents 
charges of the gravest character against Generals Stoessel and 
Fock and members of Stoessel's staff. To a reader not 
familiar with the details of the situation his account appears 
to be partisan. Some time after the publication of this book 
charges were preferred against the two ofTicers mentioned 
above, against General Reis — Stoessel's chief of staff — and 
Lieutenant-General Smirnoff who was the real Commandant 
of the Fortress. These charges were so similar to those 
stated in Nojine's book that it seemed probable that they 
had been based upon the same. This was not the case but the 
book evidently added interest and impetus to the trials which 
followed. All the important accusations in The Truth about 
Port Arthur were embodied in the charges against the above 
named officers and the same allegations are embraced in the 
report of the Russian General Staff. In reference to important 
events at least it may be assumed that the accusations of Nojine 
were not overstated. He presents many details affecting the 
bad conditions in Port Arthur during the siege, particularly 
in reference to vicious administration. His statements 
wherever covered by other and wholly impartial writers, 
are substantially confirmed. He appears to have been a 
patriotic man and to have had some influence amongst the 
authorities at St. Petersburg. His account is accepted as 
correct unless at variance with some other reliable authority. 

Then there are several war correspondents who were 
with the Third Japanese Army during the siege, and who 
entered the fortress after the capitulation. These men were 
not slow in estimating the situation and in publishing ac- 
counts of their observations. They all present a remarkable 
agreement as to existing conditions at the end, and, in so far 
as they cover the subject, they are in accord with the report 
of the Russian General Staff. 

The charges preferred against the officers in question re- 
sulted from an investigation by a commission of certain 
aflegations made by General Smirnoff against Stoessel and 

Colonel Roop was president of the commission that in- 
vestigated the circumstances of the surrender of the fortress 
and it was upon the findings of this commission that the 
charges were based. Parts of the report of Colonel Roop are 


important as evidence in the case and furnish reliable in- 

The written defense of Stoessel and Fock each in his own 
case before this commission, Stoessel in connection with his 
trial, and Fock in connection with the Roop commission, 
throws light upon the men and their motives and is valuable 
in the present case. It often happens that a man in trying 
to excuse himself of certain misdoings will throw more side 
lights upon his character and motives than can be effected in 
any other manner, and this may be said of the two ofTicers 
mentioned above. 

The principal sources of evidence therefore consist of the 
following authorities. 

1. Report of the Russian General Staff. 

2. Histories and reliable reports. 

3. Nojine's Truth about Port Arthur and his other writings. 

4. War correspondents with the Third Japanese Army. 

5. Reports of committees of investigation of the charges 

made against officials of Port Arthur, and statements 
of ofTicers under charges. 

6. Special reports of military attaches. 

The views of the Russian General Staff will be given by 
quotations from its report with special reference to the main 
issues involved. Quotations from other sources will be desig- 
nated by reference to the source and authority from which taken. 


At the head of the civil administration of the entire 
Kwangtung District was a Civil Commissioner, attached to the 
Commanding General — generally an ofiicer of the rank of 
colonel — whose duties were assimilated to that of governor in 
Russia; under his control was the police of Port Arthur and 
the District of!icials— also officers. Thus in his hands was 
centered the entire administrative machinery of the Kwangtung 
District, with the exception of Dalni, which had its own 
municipal government. Members of the town council (magis- 
trates), were the town doctor, the chief of police, town building 
inspector, a representative of the War Ministry, of the Navy, 
and of Finance, and three representatives from the town. 
During the war the chairman of the town council, Lieutenant- 
Colonel Morschinin carried out the duties of the Civil Com- 


Looking at the theater of war, it will be clear to any one 
that nature aided materially in converting Port Arthur into a 
powerful fortress. All circumstances favored this as the 
place of refuge for the squadron in the Pacific Ocean. In 
how far, these gifts of nature were utilized will become evident 
in the further history of operations. 

Occupation of the Fortress 

Without entering into the details of the political situation 
in connection with the Russian occupation of Port Arthur 
and the Kwangtung Peninsula, a few remarks upon the question 
at that time will now throw light upon the matter considered 
and help to form the background for the circumstances which 
led up to the siege of the place. 

About the 1st of December, 1897, the ships of the Russian 
fleet went to Port Arthur for their winter station. On the 21st 
of March, 1898, the steamer Sswar and two of the Russian 
volunteer fleet proceeded from Vladivostok and anchored off 
Port Arthur, having aboard the 1st Battalion of the 4th East 
Siberian Rifle Regiment, 4 guns of the First Battery, 1st East 
Siberian Rifle Brigade, and one section of Werchneudinsk 
Regiment of the Transbaikal Cossacks. The Squadron, at 
that time, was commanded by Admiral Dubassow. 

On March 26th, pursuant to agreement with General Ssun, 
the Chinese Commander, it was agreed by China that the 
Chinese forces at Port Arthur were to evacuate the place on 
the 27th of March; the treaty was signed by the two powers 
and the Liaotung Peninsula became the property of Russia. 
On March 28th three ships were placed at the disposal of 
General Ssun for the purpose of removing his troops. 

In October, 1898, there were at Port Arthur or in the 
vicinity, eight battalions of infantry, two of fortress artfllery, 
three batteries of twenty-four guns of field artiflery, one 
Cossack regiment, a company of sappers, three hospitals, two 
magazines, and twenty pieces of heavy artillery, the last 
being on the sea front. 

After Port Arthur had been occupied by Admiral Dubas- 
sow, Colonel Wogak, General Staff, and Engineer Colonel 
Wasiljewski examined the country and agreed that the line 
of defense of the fortress must be pushed out beyond the line 
of the Wolf Hills. Later a report was made by Lieutenant- 
General Kenonowitsch-Corbazki, sent out by the department 
in October, 1898, containing the conclusions that the place must 


be converted into a land fortress with strong permanent works 
and a strong garrison to resist a superior attacking force for a 
long period; that the line of the main defense must contain 
Takushan, Dragon Hill, Temple Height, the "Eckberg" group. 
High Hill, Panluntshan, Waldschnepfen Hill, Salzberg and 
White Wolf. Liaoteshan was to be held as an observation 
point. The armament was to consist of 593 guns, 82 mortars 
and 18 companies of fortress artillery. The coast defense was 
to be strengthened by guns of great caliber and longer range 
— twelve 25-cm. guns, twelve 15-cm. guns, and sixteen 28-cm. 
guns. For the defense of Kwangtung it was estimated that at 
least 20 battalions of infantry with field artillery, 1 regiment 
of Cossacks and 18 companies of fortress artillery would be 

He further reported that the positions of Kinchou as well 
as the country between Yunk and Victoria Bays should be 
strongly fortified. This report was submitted in April, 1899, 
and the War Minister, General Kuropatkin, considered it with 
care, after which the latter came to the conclusion that the 
question should be gone over in conference with the Chiefs of 
the Engineer and Artillery Administrations ; that in his opinion 
it would be necessary to settle upon a line of defense further 
in, containing several forts which would withstand heavy 
attacks, and requested that Admiral Alexieff be called in for 
final decision. From remarks upon this report by General 
Kuropatkin it is clear that the Ministry of War fully realized 
the necessity for a proper system of fortification for the Kwang- 
tung, but sought to limit the cost thereof if possible. 

A special board was then ordered consisting of State 
Secretary Sscolski, the Imperial Secretary, the Ministers of 
War, Finance, and Foreign Affairs, and the Head of the Navy 
Department, which was to determine absolutely the outlay 
necessary for the fortification of the Kwangtung. The opinion 
of the Minister of Foreign Affairs throws light on this question. 
On May 29th he said: 

At present the condition of international affairs does not in any way 
menace our gradually fortifying the Kwangtung Peninsula. One such can 
only arise by lack of care in our case or by progress too rapid. One must 
not forget that the principal defense of Port Arthur, since the Russian 
flag has been raised there, does not depend on those troops that may be 
there but on the fact that all nations know that behind this place stands 
all of Russia. 

This same point of view was held by other members of the 


board, but the Finance Minister added thereto that the de- 
mands of the Ministry of War should be somewhat curtailed 
from what the original scheme of fortification for the Kwang- 
tung had shown. Although General Kuropatkin invited the 
attention of the Committee to the fact that during the time 
that the peninsula was held by the Chinese the requirements 
of the defense of the place had been worked out by western 
engineers who had found that it would require at least 20,000 
men and 350 guns. The estimates of the Ministry for War 
were reduced to 11,300 men and 150 guns. Cost, careful or 
conservative state policy, and extreme confidence in the 
bravery of the Russian soldier were the chief considerations 
in this far-reaching conclusion. It was further recommended 
that the Ministry should not increase this number of troops 
because it would not only be an additional expense to the 
state but in addition would introduce a serious political danger. 
The conclusions of this board were binding on the Minister 
of War and he was obliged to execute them and was limited 
to the amounts of money based thereon. Finally Colonel 
Velicho of the Engineers, in 1899, was sent to Port Arthur 
with full powers. He was directed to determine the places 
and positions for the fortifications according to plan and, if 
this plan was not objected to by the military authorities at 
Port Arthur, was authorized to give immediate orders for 
beginning the work. 

Project of Fortification 

Colonel Velicho's scheme counted upon works that would 
require a garrison of 14,000 to 15,000 men. A Commission 
was named whose plan of fortification was approved on June 
30, 1900. According to this plan, the sea front called for 124 
guns arranged in 22 batteries, and the land front for 418 guns 
and 48 machine guns, the latter being divided into two fronts 
known as the east and the west fronts. 

The work of construction of the forts actually commenced 
before June 30, 1900. Ample and timely appropriations would 
have permitted the completion of the works by 1904. As it 
turned out, however, they were not half finished by that date. 
It was estimated in the beginning that the cost of the fortifica- 
tions would be 8,927,775 roubles but this turned out to be 
entirely too small and that the amount should have been 
15,000,000. By the end of 1903 a little less than one-third this 
amount had been appropriated and of the latter more than 


500,000 had been diverted in 1900 to build batteries not con- 
nected with the Kwangtung project but on account of the 
Boxer war. The Minister of Finance constantly endeavored 
to cut down the amounts authorized and the Secretary of War 
found it necessary to limit the Engineer Department. 

No money ever became available for Kinchou and that 
point was just as received from China in 1897, although all 
persons and commissions had reported upon the importance of 
this place in the system of fortifications for the peninsula. 

Further lack of money caused the designer, with the per- 
mission of the highest authorities, to make certain economical 
deviations from the regular rules by cutting down the proper 
thickness of concrete arches and walls which, as became 
evident later, fatally affected the successful defense of the 

Thus it may be observed that competent officers made 
thorough and careful study on the ground of the requirements 
of the case and reported upon the cost of suitable fortifications. 
These reports, for reasons already given, were cut down almost 
fifty per cent and approved by heads of departments who 
could not possibly see any but the economic phase of the 
question. Thus in the first effort to prepare the port as a 
suitable base for the fleet the initial mistake in policy was made. 

After having accepted a plan for the defense of the Kwang- 
tung, money was so limited and so slow in coming that the 
works were scarcely one-third completed when the crisis 

The scheme would have worked very well had the war not 
arrived but the deficiencies were not corrected before 1903 
when it became evident that war with Japan was coming, 
and, at times, might be said to be imminent. The war cloud 
had always been above the horizon since 1898, and it is almost 
beyond belief that such neglect and such false economy could 
be advocated and enforced in the face of such a situation. 

In commenting on this question Colonel Velicho said: 

It is impossible to decide defense questions wisely when your superiors 
say to you "this city is very important and we shall assign a garrison of 
25,000 men. That port is less important and we shall assign only 8000 
men to defend it. Construct a fortress to fit a garrison of 8000 men." 

The line of main defense was to be divided into two parts 
by the Lunho. 

1. The east front ran from the Kreutzberg to the Lunho, 
a distance of 8.5 kilometers. 


2. The west front from the Lunho to include White Wolf 
Mountain, a distance of 12 kilometers. 

This necessitated the omission of Takushan, etc., from the 
line of main defense, which on account of its importance was 
to be prepared first, and forced the hills in front into a second- 
ary line. Takushan and Siagushan should have been prepared 
as early as possible but as it turned out they were not prepared 
when the attack came and were of no use in the defense. 

While money was not available for the completion of the 
defenses about 20,000,000 roubles had been spent on works, 
docks, etc., at Dalni, where a commercial station and harbor 
had been established during the same period. This expendi- 
ture made at the sacrifice of the defense was a serious mis- 
take in view of the constant danger of war to which Russia 
was then exposed, and was a second mistake in policy. 

Importance of Kinchou 

The important position of Kinchou was not considered at 
all in the appropriations. This was known to be the key of 
the defenses to the peninsula and had been fully considered by 
those who had studied the subject. Colonel Velicho found 
certain contradictions in his instructions. He was directed 
to devise a scheme for the defense of the peninsula and at the 
same time was obliged to limit the same to a garrison of 11,300 
men. This was impossible. The fortress was fortunate in 
having soon after the beginning of the war in all more than 
50,000 men available for its defense. 

Underestimation of the Enemy, and Power of Future Ordnance 

In working the details of the defenses, Colonel Vehcho 
further says: 

It is difficult to estimate what siege artillery the Japanese may bring 
against this fortress in a siege. 

As in 1894 they had at their disposal a siege park of some 
30 guns, among which were 12-cm. guns and 15-cm. mortars, so, 
at the least, foresight would demand that in future he should 
count on at least double that number of those guns. Finally, 
he estimated that the enemy would have in all 184 guns of 
which 144 would be field and 40 would be siege guns. On the 
strength of these conclusions he reduced the thickness of the 
concrete walls below that demanded by the rules in such 


Economic considerations demanded the reduction of the 
space of the casemates and the heights and thicknesses of the 
parapets and arches, to what might seem allowable in view of 
the weak siege artillery which would be opposed to them. The 
erroneous deductions made in the premises are now apparent 
from the numbers of 6-inch guns, 8-inch howitzers, 11 -inch 
mortars and long range 6-inch naval guns placed before the 
works and the preparation of a siege park of 300 guns to reduce 
the works after the failure of the first general assault. Thus 
in the fall of Port Arthur we obtain a clear idea of what 
economy did for Russia. 

Under the conditions in 1903 and the certainty that war 
with Japan was imminent, the opinions of the special board 
became considerably modified. In 1903 Alexieff, commander 
of the forces of the Kwangtung, had gotten up a memoir 
stating the necessities and requirements of Port Arthur which 
he handed to the Minister of War. This contained but few 
items relating to the development and execution of the defenses 
and none touching upon hastening the progress of the same. 
Thus with diplomatic relations with Japan seriously strained 
in 1903, a rupture possible at any moment, and the situation 
becoming more and more serious, progress upon the fortifica- 
tions was practically ignored. 

Organization of the Command 

In the fall of 1903 the first serious effort to organize the 
command of the fortress was made, and consisted in the fol- 
lowing steps. 

1. The appointment of Admiral Alexieff as Viceroy. 

2. The organization at Port Arthur of the 7th East 
Siberian Rifle Brigade of four regiments, the assignment of 
Major-General Kondratenko to command the same, and the 
designation of this force as the garrison. 

3. The reorganization of the 4th East Siberian Rifle 
Brigade and increase of the regiments from two to three 

4. The organization of the 7th Rifle Artillery Detachment 
of three batteries of eight guns each. 

5. The organization of the 4th Rifle Artillery Brigade, 
of four batteries of eight guns each. 

6. The organization of a reserve battery of six 67-mm. 


7. The organization of a third battahon of fortress artil- 
lery, which reached Port Arthur on March 6th, 1904. 

8. The organization of one company each, of fortress 
mine, telegraph, gensdarme and fire department first class. 
The latter was not finally organized for lack of the proper 
fire apparatus. 

9. The appointment of a fortress commander, formation 
of a fortress staff, and fortress administration. By orders of 
superior authority, Lieutenant-General Stoessel was designated 
Fortress Commander. 

10. For contingencies, 3,000,000 roubles were allotted to 
the Viceroy. This money might have been used for hastening 
the construction of the fortifications, but it became available 
only one month before the war and was too late to accomplish 
important results. 

Due to these late efforts to organize the fortress, it was 
not sufficiently strengthened and in full running order at the 
commencement of the war. 

A memorial was gotten up December 13, 1903, concerning 
the military preparedness of the fortress. There were but 
immaterial changes in the conditions in the place between 
this date and the beginning of the war. The object of this 
memoir was to show the defensibility of the fortress, because 
in the newly organized fortress staff no plan of defense or 
mobilization existed and no records or papers were on file 
from which such plans could be made. 

The memoir lays particular stress on the important 
deficiencies. The fortress commander had no influence on the 
progress of the defensive works since the engineer authorities 
were directly under the charge of the Chief Engineer of the 
District of Kwangtung. A fortress engineer administration 
was organized after the beginning of the war. 

The above mentioned memoir deals first with the fortress 

Engineer Administration 

The coast front. — Considers the number of batteries and 
their positions along the sea front. 

The land front. — Deals with the fortifications, completed, 
not completed, just begun, not begun, Chinese fortifications, 


Artillery Administration 

Guns. — The number of coast guns was fixed at 124. The 
number for the land defense at 418 field and heavier guns, and 
48 machine guns. At the beginning of the war the fortress 
had received of these 131 coast guns, 244 land defense, and 
38 machine guns. On February 8th there were more coast 
guns than the original number allotted thereto, but they were 
short five 25-cm. guns. At this date 116 M^ere mounted: 108 
on the sea front and 8 on the land front. Later, in addition 
to these, about 100 old Chinese guns were mounted. During 
the course of the siege a large number of ships' guns were 
taken from the fleet and mounted on the land fronts. 

Ammunition. — The number of rounds for the guns was 
the authorized amount. In many cases there were even more 
on hand. On February 8th the Russians began to transfer 
ammunition from the storage magazines to those of the bat- 
teries, where up to this time there had been but little since the 
magazines were just being completed. 

Searchlights. — There were in all five searchlights in the 
place, three had already been erected in the coast defenses 
and the remaining two were to be placed in the land defenses. 

Rifles and Rifle Ammunition. — There were in reserve 9269 
rifles, and a liberal supply of cartridges. The total on hand 
was 31,904,000, or approximately 1000 per rifle. 

Plan of Mobilization. — Of the several fortress administra- 
tions the artillery was the only one that had a prepared plan 
for bringing the place up to a defensive condition. This was 
due to the fact that the administration of the Fortress Artillery 
of the Kwangtung had already been in existence for four 
years, whereas the fortress itself had been organized just 
before the war. 

In this respect it appears that no anticipation of the 
requirements of the fortress about to come into existence had 
been attempted and no thought given to the many complex 
questions demanding immediate solution that are certain to 
arise in such cases and did arise here after the fortress came 
into existence. 

Commissariat and Medical Administration 

The fortress commissariat had been organized on the 16th 
of December. It had, however, taken no steps with respect 
to the troops until after the departure of the Intendant of the 


Kwangtung District from Port Arthur on February 16th, 1904. 
On the 8th a Hst of commissary stores and forage indicates a 
fair supply of rations, but reports tend to show, and in several 
cases do show, that no particular care was exercised to collect 
a suitable supply of the same in anticipation of a long and 
severe siege. 

The medical administration and plan of mobilization of 
sanitary troops had not been developed and appears to have 
remained incomplete throughout the siege. 

Troops of the Fortress 

The 3rd East Siberian Brigade and Rifle Artillery Detach- 
ment, which, since the day of occupation had constituted the 
garrison of Kwangtung and were well acquainted with the 
country, were withdrawn at the end of January to South 
Manchuria in obedience to orders of the Viceroy, who thought 
it important to have troops at the Yalu before the Japanese 
should arrive. These troops were therefore sent to Liaoyang 
and Kaiping to be convenient for the above transfer to the 
Yalu when desirable. A company of sappers was also ordered 
from the place, leaving the same without sappers for several 
weeks. Thus on February the 8th, of the 24,550 men in Port 
Arthur 5250 were under orders to march to other points. 

The fortress system of telegraph and telephone lines had 
not been installed and no progress was being made in installing 
them. The telegraph company in the place had actually 
marched away on February 23. It was not till April 9, that 
the Port Arthur Fortress War Telegraph Company arrived 
and took up this work. The installation was hastily put in. 
As a rule the lines were put on poles or lightly buried, and were 
continuously cut by hostile shot during the siege, causing 
much annoyance and contributing to the downfall of the place. 

Although the fortress commander had been appointed on 
the 24th of August, 1903, no instructions had reached him by 
the beginning of the war. No plans of defense and mobiliza- 
tion existed and without them and with the existing incom- 
plete organization of the fortress, it was considered impossible 
to get up such plans in the three or four months available. 

At the beginning of war, therefore, the fortress was not 
ready, and the organization and administration of the fortress 
were not in operation according to regulations. When hos- 
tilities began Lieutenant-General Wolkow, who was the only 
person who had had opportunities to become acquainted with 


the situation, was ordered to Harbin to command the rear of 
the army. 

At Kinchou nothing was done to prepare the place until 
after the outbreak of war. The delay caused a feverish rush 
of work accompanied by many doubts as to the possibility of 
preparing the place within the time available. 

The bays and places of lookout in the neighborhood of 
Port Arthur were provided with observing detachments and 
all stations connected with the fortress by telephone. The 
more distant points were neglected for the time or dependence 
placed upon other means to secure information. 

On February 6lh the Viceroy received a reply to a tele- 
gram which he had sent to St. Petersburg, in which he was 
authorized by supreme authority to use his discretion (1) in 
ordering the mobilization of the troops of his district, (2) in 
declaring a state of war at the time of mobilization, (3) in de- 
claring a state of war over and in the fortress of Port Arthur 
and the Chinese railway. On the same day the Viceroy 
ordered the commanding officer of the Kwangtung to take 
proper measures to strengthen the safety of Port Arthur, by 
increasing the number of observing stations towards the sea, 
guarding points containing magazines, storehouses, depots, 
etc., and establishing batteries at the entrance to the harbor. 
The commandant of the fortress, on receipt of these instruc- 
tions, issued an order covering the main subjects but most of 
these directions were of such nature that they could not be 
carried out immediately — such as construction of booms 
across the harbor, placing siege batteries at the entrance, etc. 

Rupture of Diplomatic Relations 

On February 6th, 4 p. m., St. Petersburg time, diplomatic 
relations were broken off and this fact was known to the 
Viceroy and the circle about him but neither the fortress 
commander nor the other commanders had been notified of 
the fact. A meeting of the officers had been set for February 
9th but they learned of the state of hostility through the 
attack upon the harbor on the preceding night. 

Preparations for Defense 

On January 31st Admiral Starck, commander of the 
Pacific Squadron, issued instructions for the patrol of the 
waters adjacent to the harbor by torpedoboats and cruisers, 
and for use of searchlights and signals at night after which 


communication with the ships was to be cut off and the same 
placed in readiness for instant defense. He further requested 
the Viceroy for two swift cruisers to make certain defined 
trips to the Chfford Islands and the Shantung Peninsula and 
to act as scouts for the fleet. The Admiral appeared to have 
rather clear ideas of the requirements of the problem before 
him and his duty in reference to the security of the Squadron. 
The Viceroy allowed him one swift cruiser. 

On the first and subsequent attacks by the Japanese the 
Russians mistook the Japanese torpedoboats for their own, 
and appeared to be unfamiliar with the appearance of their 
own boats and certainly were unfamiliar with those of the 

For a long time the troops of the garrison had been 
assigned to particular posts and duties, but the changes in 
stations of troops, ordered about this time and then in the 
process of execution, had prevented the assignments of the 
new troops to their proper places. On the morning after the 
attack, orders were issued for the troops to man the land 
fronts. The troops took up their positions in haste and got 
them in order. They particularly rushed the work of the 
fortress artillery which was to operate on the land front. 

The administrative staff were rapidly getting their affairs 
in order and preparing to go to Harbin. Nervousness and 
restlessness were everywhere noticeable. It was increased by 
the over-supply of staffs and higher officers. During this 
time there were the Viceroy; the Commander of the troops. 
General Wolkow; the commandant of the fortress, General 
Stoessel; the staffs of the Viceroy, the District, and of the 
Fortress Commandant; and to these must be added the Chief 
and staffs of the Squadron, the Harbor Commandant, and the 
navy staff of the Viceroy. From all sides the troops received 
orders and directions, often in flat contradiction to one another. 

On the 9th of February the Viceroy acted upon the in- 
structions of the 6th and declaring the fortress to be in a state 
of siege ordered the mobilization within the Amur District 
and turned over the defense of Kinchou-Port Arthur District 
to the Commandant of the Fortress, extending his authority 
over the whole. 

During the next five days the most incredible rumors 
were afloat and had a bad effect upon all concerned. "The 
Commanding Officer informs the garrison that tonight a 
bombardment may be expected" is a specimen of orders pub- 


lished during this period. Such information or rather mis- 
information was not only useless but injurious to the garrison. 
Although there existed a mobilization plan for the Kwang- 
tung District there had been so many changes of troops recently 
that it was of no use in the emergency. No one knew whence 
were to come the regiments that were to replace those which 
had been ordered away. 

Plan of Defense 

The preparation of the fortified trenches went on rapidly. 
This duty was turned over by Stoessel to the able and energetic 
Kondratenko, and to his astounding power for work the ex- 
tensive results were due. He took up the work of completing 
unfinished works, constructing new ones, and the supporting 
defenses, putting old Chinese works into defensive condition, 
completing the surrounding wall, building the approaches, 
clearing the ground, placing mines and obstacles, and laying 
out new and improving old telegraph lines. 

At the same time work on Kinchou under Colonel Tret- 
jakow and Captain Von Schwartz was being pushed with 

Orders for defense were prepared as follows: 

1. Holding of neighboring bays, observation of the coast 
of Korea north of Kinchou, and keeping up communications 
with the other troops at Dalni and other neighboring places 
were directed. The net-work of places was extended and the 
communication system connected from Dalni to Port Arthur. 

2. Attention was given to Kinchou. 

3. A rear admiral was detailed as aide to the Fortress 
Commandant, and the coast defenses, as well as the ships 
not belonging to the Squadron, were put under his charge. 

4. Provisions were made for a vessel to be always on 
duty to defend the entrance to the harbor and arrangements 
for suitable signals, etc., for co-operation with the shore bat- 
teries w^ere made. Guns from the Angara were taken off and 
placed on each side of the entrance. 

5. A large number of small caliber guns were taken from 
the ships and mounted on shore. 

6. Several of the guns mentioned were placed to cover 
Pigeon Bay and other bays, and manned by sailors, thereby 
improving the service of the stations of observation. 

7. Mines were to be planted in Kerr and Talienwan Bays 


and careful observation of the coast of Korea with special 
reference to a large expedition which had sailed from Japan. 

In addition to these instructions the following were also 
issued: For the formation of a volunteer "Druschine," exclu- 
sion of all Japanese, arming of civilians, instructing the officers 
and men "Never to give up the Fort," destruction of the docks 
at Dalni, and the formation of detachments of mounted scouts. 

On the 17th of February General Wolkow and his staff 
left Port Arthur and with him departed the District Staff, the 
Intendant, Engineer, Artillery and Medical Administrations, 
leaving General Stoessel to command the Fortress and the 

Arrival of Admiral Makaroff 

On the 8th of March Admiral Makaroff, the new com- 
mander of the fleet, arrived. His arrival had been awaited 
with anxiety. He took the squadron to sea on March the 
11th and put it through a series of maneuvers and returned 
to the harbor in the evening. At a meeting of the Fortress 
Commander and the three admirals, Starck, Greme, and 
Vitgeft, measures for the co-operation of the land forces and 
the fleet were considered. The result consisted in sending 
three detachments from the ships to shore at night to guard 
certain places and to be under the orders of the Commandant 
of the Fortress for the time, returning to the ships in the 
morning, and in placing two 47-mm. guns ashore. 

In the mean time the Commander of the forces in Man- 
churia still considered the fortress as the rear and base of his 
army, although the place was already in a state of blockade. 
The Fortress Commander fought against any orders embodying 
this idea but for a time his protests were without effect. From 
the interior large parties of Japanese were sent to the place 
for transfer to Japan, which was very difficult. Also the sick 
from the field army were sent to the place and demands made 
for all kinds of supplies. Finally ammunition, guns and 
men were taken away. In March orders came to send more 
guns to Yinkou, the Commandant protested vigorously. 
Later an order was received to prepare and send away a 
fortress siege park consisting of 24 guns and eight machine 
guns with ammunition, equipment and men. The prepara- 
tion thereof took so long that before it could be completed 
the railroad was cut and further communication with the 
north prevented. 


In a report upon the position of Kinchou, Major-General 
Wasiljewski, Chief Engineer, stated as his opinion that the 
place would be attacked onl^^ from the north, that four bat- 
talions would be sufficient garrison, and that the position 
should be able to hold out for two months or until it could 
probably be relieved by the armies in the field. 

On the 7th of March there were mounted on the land 
front 233 guns ready to fire, and guns and ammunition were 
beginning to arrive from Russia. The artillery work was 
making great progress. 

The Intendant administration of the District left the 
place without concerning itself in the least as to the condi- 
tion of affairs therein. The new administration sought to 
obtain cattle by purchase and ship same by rail from Man- 
churia, but this method entailed great difficulties and termin- 
ated without favorable results. 

The Arrival of Lieutenant-General Smirnoff 

On March 17, Lieutenant-General Smirnoff arrived at 
Port Arthur. He had been appointed by order of Superior 
Headquarters, dated February 15, to be the new Commandant 
of the Fortress and was to relieve Stoessel, who was to com- 
mand the 3rd Siberian Corps. 

The fleet since the arrival of Admiral Makaroff, had 
greatly improved. A Japanese naval officer wrote in his note- 
book in regard to him: 

With the arrival of Admiral Makaroff an unheard of animation has 
taken place in the Russian fleet, that is particularly noticed in the defense 
of the harbor. He must be a man of ability. 

On March 23, an order was issued from Superior Head- 
quarters directing that: 

The Commander of the 3rd Siberian Corps, Lieutenant-General Stoessel, 
will assume direction of the defense of the fortified zone of Port Arthur- 
Kinchou, having under his direction the Commandant of Port Arthur and 
all of the troops within the above mentioned zone. 

At the same time authority was given to the Viceroy to 
arrange the service conditions of different commands more in 
detail and on the 27th of March he issued the following 
order, by telegraph, from Mukden: 

In accordance with directions from superior authority your Excellency 
will take over the control of the land defense of the fortified zone of 
Kwangtung, by virtue of which the Commandant of the Fortress of Port 
Arthur is put under your orders. By virtue of supreme authority given 


me I entrust you with the rights of a Commanding General of an Indepen- 
dent Army Corps under full control of the Commander in Chief of the 
Manchurian Army. To the Commandant of the Fortress I here give the 
authority of a Commanding General of an Army Corps not independent. 
In so far as I give you instructions, I ask that in defense of the command 
entrusted to you you will arrive at some understanding with the Chief of 
the Fleet. 

During the first half of the month of April the mine com- 
pany v/as engaged in laying electrically controlled mines in 
the harbor. 

Admiral Makaroff directed a cruiser with several torpedo- 
boats to take up position nightly in rear of the mine fields. 
At the appearance of hostile blockading ships or torpedoboats, 
on a designated signal they were to go out and engage the 
same. The Admiral himself, as a rule, slept on the cruiser 
watching the mine fields. 

On the night of April 12-13 the harbor was threatened. 
Next morning the Admiral with the fleet went out against 
three hostile cruisers, which evidently were endeavoring to 
entice the fleet away from the port. On the appearance on 
the horizon of eight hostile ships the Admiral turned about 
and led the squadron back to the harbor, the Petropavlowsk 
with the Chief in the lead. At about half past nine in the 
morning when this ship was in the outer roadstead, at a dis- 
tance of five or six miles from the shore, it struck a mine and 
immediately after a second mine. It rapidly sank, and 
Makaroff and his staff — made up of the best officers of the 
fleet — were lost. 

Soon after his arrival in Port Arthur, Admiral Makaroff 
had sent a report to the Viceroy in which he attempted to 
show that in a maritime fortress unity of command was abso- 
lutely imperative and at the same time asked that the Fortress 
Commandant should be under the control of the Chief of the 
Fleet and required to carry out all of his directions. 

The Viceroy fully agreed with these proposals and had 
already made arrangements to have the Fortress Commandant 
subordinate to the Chief of the Fleet. Before issuing the 
order, however, he telegraphed to General Kuropatkin for his 
opinion in the matter. In his telegram he stated that: 

To avoid a double command the subordination of the Fortress Com- 
mandant to the Commander in Chief of the Manchurian Army is required 
to be given up. The connection between that army and the fortified zone 
is already very weak. 

General Kuropatkin was in no way in agreement with 


this view of the Viceroy and Admiral Makaroff. In a telegram 
to the Viceroy on March the 13th, amongst other things he said 
the following: 

Admiral AdakarofT must, if he wishes to command troops in battle 
on land, first learn to direct operations on land. The rights and duties of 
the Fortress Commandant are directly laid down in Orders for the Adminis- 
tration of a Fortress and I see no reason, in view of the fact that these orders 
were approved by the highest authority in 1901, why as soon as they are, 
for the first time called into use in earnest, they should again be changed. 

Inasmuch as I have fully and openly stated my view on this most 
important question, I must give as fully my opinions as to the impractic- 
ability of turning the defense of the fortress over to General Smirnoff, 
who is entirely unacquainted with the theater of war and the troops and 
who in no way possesses experience in war and in authority. 

As Commandant of the Fortress, and the fortified zone up to the Isthmus 
at Kinchou, General Stoessel is named, and subordinate to him will remain 
all power and means for the defense on land. 

As a result of this difference of opinion between the Vice- 
roy and General Kuropatkin, already at that time detailed to 
command the Army of Manchuria, the question as to sub- 
ordination of the Fortress Commandant of Port Arthur under 
the Chief of the Fleet was laid before the highest authority 
and the result was the receipt of the telegram already quoted 
of March the 23rd, which assigned Stoessel as Commander 
of the District with the Fortress Commandant subordinate to 

The Armament of the Fortress Artillery 

The supply of projectiles for the great number of guns of 
the fortress was a serious matter. On request for same by 
the Chief of Artillery of the fortress. Major General Bjely, the 
Artillery Headquarters in St. Petersburg replied by telegraph 
about the middle of March. 

As to sending the 25-cm. shot and shell for the Canet guns you can 
not reckon on it in the near future since such projectiles are not on hand. 

The Commandant made a report upon the subject on 
March 31st asking that the projectiles be furnished as soon as 
possible, but the report had no effect since none were available. 

The seacoast 25-cm. armor-piercing shells were not charged 
with high-explosive, as were those for the fleet, and to remedy 
this deficiency Admiral Makaroff directed that a number of 
25-cm. shells be turned over to the seacoast artillery and 
telegraphed his action to the head of the Navy Department 
at St. Petersburg. 


On the 27th of March Admiral Makaroff received a reply 
to this message informing him that Artillery Headquarters had 
reached the following decisions: 

1. Armor-piercing shells for the 25-cm. guns are not to be charged 
with high-explosive, as up to this time there is no method of doing so that 
does not decrease penetration. 

2. As a maximum range for armor-piercing shell may be regarded as 
3.2 kilometers, all firing beyond this range with this ammunition is useless. 

3. Firing at a moving fleet beyond 10 kilometers is not worth while. 
On account of the low probability of hitting such firing gives poor results 
considering the ammunition expended, the supply of which is limited. It 
also causes useless deterioration of the guns. 

This message caused the assembling of a special board 
consisting of Vice Admiral Makaroff, General Stoessel, Lieu- 
tenant-General Smirnoff, Major-General Bjely (Chief of Artil- 
lery), and the Grand Duke Cyrill Vladimirowitsch. A col- 
lective telegram was sent to the head of the Navy Department, 
in substance as follows: 

The decisions of Artillery Headquarters were the cause of a special 
meeting of the undersigned. They have come to the conclusion that the 
Artillery Headquarters has not gone into the subject with sufficient detail, 
or otherwise it would not have directed that no reply be made to the fire 
of the enemy who is firing and destroying the fleet and batteries. The 
undersigned consider it absolutely necessary that the coast guns, even in 
the face of theoretical deductions of the Artillery Headquarters, be supplied 
with projectiles and be permitted to fire at those ranges which the ballistic 
properties of the gun permit. 

This ended the matter — projectiles were not sent for the 
batteries and the ships furnished the batteries with armor- 
piercing shells. 

In the meantime the authorities in the fortress worked 
upon the fortifications, and great strides were made in that 
respect; the artillery work went on; the ships were being 
repaired as rapidly as possible but progress was hindered by 
the lack of a dock for this purpose and they were repaired by 
means of caissons, which caused delay. It must be said in 
general that during the time of Admiral Makaroff that all 
naval personnel worked with its whole soul to aid in the 
defense. The work was done in common and there were no 
conflicts between the land and naval forces. 

Arrival of the Viceroy 

On April the 15th the Viceroy returned to Port Arthur and 
in accordance with superior orders took over command of the 
Fleet. On April 25th he received through his military chief 


of staff, information from the staff of St. Petersburg con- 
cerning an expedition that had left Japan. The message read 
as follows: 

Telegrams from Cheefoo say that rumors in regard to landings at 
Dagschan, Yinkou, and Kaiping are false reports, and that the real attack 
of the Second Army that left Japan on April 16, will take place at Talienwan, 
Kinchou, against Port Arthur. The Japanese have an intermediate base 
at the Vliautau Islands. For the attack upon Port Arthur, mortars are 
being shipped from Japan. 

As to the measures to be taken to resist the Japanese 
landings on the Liaotung Peninsula ideas of the higher com- 
manders differed and nothing was done in advance to reconcile 
this difference. 

On the 4th day of May it was evident that the Japanese 
were preparing to land in the neighborhood of Pitsewo, and 
the Viceroy prepared to leave Port Arthur. In the mean 
time he sent out small parties with definite instructions to 
prevent landings of small parties and to delay large ones. 
Under the circumstances it was evident the task was far 
beyond the strength of the bodies sent out and they had no 
influence on the result. 

Questions as to Authority of Fortress Commander 

At the end of April, hardly a month after the appointment 
of General Stoessel as Commandant of the Fortified Zone, 
misunderstandings arose as to the administration of the fortress. 
In orders appointing him, the Viceroy gave to him the rights 
of a commander of an independent army corps, and to the 
fortress commander the rights of a commander of a corps not 
independent. These orders violated the Orders for the Ad- 
ministration of Fortresses and curtailed the rights of fortress 
commanders but said nothing as to the changes or curtail- 
ments of said rights, or the duties or limitations of these two 

Nowhere was to be found a definite order that clearly 
specified the spheres of usefulness of the Commandant of the 
Fortified Zone. Stoessel was of the opinion that he was the 
sole and principal commandant not only in the zone but in the 
fortress. The Fortress Commandant did not know in which 
direction his authority as Commandant of the Fortress was 
curtailed. Finally the officers of the two staffs were uncertain 
in how far the orders of one or the other were to be carried 
out. On the 27th of April the Viceroy issued an order for the 


"Organization and Regulation of the Forces in the Fortress of 
Port Arthur," in which the following were to be rigidly carried 

1. The internal police administration of the fortress and, as specified, 
a portion of the zone is placed under the direction of the Commandant of 
the Fortress. For this purpose, the local administration, the town police, 
and the heads of the boundary guards shall be under his orders and carry 
out all of his instructions. 

2. The retention or exclusion of persons from the town and fortified 
district is in his hands exclusively. 

3. He alone has authority to permit or restrict persons from leaving 
the town. 

4. He is authorized to control the withdrawal of supplies from the 
fortified zone. 

5. He has full power and authority over the general sanitary conditions 
of the town. 

6. He has control over the prices of the necessaries of life within the 

These orders did not accomplish the purpose for which 
they were issued since they do not contain one word regulating 
the rights of the Commandant of the Fortress, in a military 
sense, or the demarcation of the powers of the Commandants 
of the Fortress and the Fortified Zone. In these regulations 
issued for the purpose of defining the powers of the com- 
mandants of the fortress and the fortified zone, no mention is 
made of the latter, and Stoessel assumed that this order did 
not concern him at all, but was issued for the purpose of 
defining the sphere of action of the Fortress Commandant 
more clearly. At the same time he was the senior and of the 
opinion that all the rights of the commandant belonged to him 
as Commandant of the Fortified Zone; for the power belonging 
to the junior must also come entirely to the senior. 

This General Stoessel stated in a letter to General Smirnoff 
as his understanding of the order of the Viceroy, Thus the 
main object of the order was lost, and the differences still 
existing between the two men was one of the causes that 
severed the good relations between them and later led to 
more serious trouble. 

On the 15th of April the Viceroy ordered 188 guns to be 
taken from the ships and mounted on shore. The removal of 
the guns caused considerable excitement on board the ships. 
A large number of projectiles were disembarked with the 

Although the operations at the time of, and subsequent 
to, the landing of the enemy near Pitsewo were known, a 


short remark here will cast a side light upon the subject in 

The disembarkation of the Second Japanese Army was 
carried out with wonderful energy although it was done in 
spite of unfavorable circumstances. According to the Chinese, 
10,000 were landed on May 5. A battalion with pioneers set 
out at 4 A. M. on the 5th to go to Pitsewo and cut the tele- 
graph lines, and at 9 p. m. two companies with pioneers to 
destroy the railway at Pulientien which they reached next 
morning. In the mean time the Russians had lost all touch 
with the enemy. These parties and the main landing were 
not interfered with although it was known on the 4th that a 
landing would take place there and Stoessel had approx- 
imately 20,000 men in that neighborhood who were available 
for energetic action against the enemy while getting ashore. 
A typhoon raged on the 6th and continued for two or three 
days necessitating cessation of the landing movement for at 
least one day. General Fock was in command of these troops 
and never at any time took active measures in sufficient 
numbers to accomplish anything or to interfere with the 
Japanese procedure. Inefficiency of the highest order appears 
to have prevailed here. 

The Departure of the Viceroy 

The Viceroy left for Mukden on May 5th. On his way 
from Port Arthur he telegraphed Stoessel on the 6th. Amongst 
other things he stated: 

I consider it necessary to inform General Fock that his main task does 
not consist in holding fast this position (Kinchou) at any price, but con- 
sists in timely withdrawal of the troops entrusted to him to reinforce the 
garrison at Port Arthur. 

Battle of Kinchou 

Except to carry out the earlier directions of the Viceroy, 
Stoessel took no steps on May 5th to prevent a landing of the 
enemy, or even to secure accurate information thereof. Dur- 
ing the period from the landing at Pitsewo until the battle of 
Kinchou the inactivity of the Russian fleet and of the land 
forces under Fock is incredible. The fleet did nothing, did 
not even attempt anything, and the land forces made no 
reconnaissance of any value and after a few hours contact with 
the Japanese lost all touch with them and were in complete 
ignorance of their numbers or movements. 

During the campaign from Pitsewo, Russian commanders 


scarcely ever issued any orders and much confusion was 
the result and it is not improbable that had suitable orders 
been issued at Kinchou, the result of the battle might have 
been different. Stoessel never issued orders except as to some 
small unimportant detail of routine nature. Generally he 
discussed tactical questions after the event; and after stating 
his own opinions in hazy generalities, would approve Fock's 
propositions to retreat, which the latter presented to him as 
,an urgent necessity. Neither of these men seemed to have 
any definite idea of the real situation and hesitation and 
uncertainty with changes in lines of action at critical times 
are characteristic. Fock always had a horror of using his 
men and spent most of his time looking for places in the rear 
upon which to fall back or to provide for some contingency 
which might form an excuse for retirement. Although these 
actions were scarcely ever in harmony with Stoessel's ideas he 
approved Fock's procedure and recommended him on several 
occasions for decorations, promotion, or other substantial 
rewards. Neither of these men had stomachs for real fighting 
and they never indulged in the same if it were possible to 
avoid it no matter what might be the object to be gained. 
None of the records show that either of them was at any time 
during the siege present where his own skin might be in serious 
danger. This became more apparent as the siege developed 
and their characters became better known. On the 21st of 
August, Fock, who was in command of the general reserve, 
received directions from Smirnoff to send two battalions to 
the eastern front but he failed to do so and in fact refused 
until the latter wrote him a positive order to comply, with a 
statement as to what would happen in case of further delay. 
When his last organization was ordered forward Fock did not 
accompany the same. For these offenses Smirnoff relieved 
him from all command and never assigned him to one again. 
When Kondratenko was killed Fock was assigned by Stoessel 
to the command of the land defenses, in spite of Smirnoff's 
representations. The effect of this last action was very soon 
apparent in reductions in garrisons of hard pressed forts, 
evacuations by order of Fock in spite of the opposition of the 
fort commanders and many other actions which rapidly 
brought the fortress to a condition that appeared to indicate 
that surrender could not be further delayed. 

The following telegram to Fock illustrates Stoessel's 
ideas and instructions: 


As to the south of Kinchou no disembarkation has taken place, and as 
no preparations for this purpose are observed, an attack upon Kinchou is 
only to be looked for from the north or more properly from the northeast; 
if a landing in our rear does not take place, you have to concern yourself 
■with the strongest defense of the position. The reserves for the position 
must be reinforced, one regiment is not enough. As long as Kinchou is 
ours, Port Arthur is in no danger. For the protection of Yintschentsce 
Bay I will take the necessary measures from here. 

This telegram while a little verbose and stating self- 
evident facts does assign to Fock a definite mission, and 
assures him that he need not worry about his rear which will 
be taken care of by the Commanding General himself, and 
that the one problem for him is to offer the strongest resistance 
at Kinchou. As to how well Fock heeded these instructions 
is shown by the following action. He had a command of 
approximately 16,000 men to defend Kinchou. He placed 
one regiment and two companies and four scout detachments 
in the works, retained nearly 13,000 men in a general reserve 
to cover the anticipated retreat of the Kinchou garrison, and 
would not permit any of the reserve to support the troops in 
the position. The reserve was kept about ten kilometers in 
rear of the trenches and covered an area about ten kilo- 
meters deep by fifteen wide. Having, in spite of his instruc- 
tions, made these dispositions, he went twenty-five kilometers 
to the rear to look for possible landings of the enemy, and to 
select a place for resistance in case a retreat should become 

For the distinguished service rendered in this connection, 
Stoessel recommended him for rewards as follows: 

I would ask that General Fock, besides being promoted to the next 
grade for which I have already recommended him, he be also given the 
order of St. George, III Class. This will be a great reward for the old 

The report of the Russian General Staff shows that 
General Kuropatkin's letters to Stoessel prove clearly that 
Kuropatkin did not understand the defensive requirements 
of the position of Kinchou, or the circumstances of the situ- 
ation. Thus in a letter containing other matter he says: 

According to my opinion it is important that the troops of General 
Fock be withdrawn at the proper time, rejoining the garrison at Port Arthur. 
It seems to me very desirable that the guns of the position of Kinchou be 
dismantled at the proper time, and sent back by rail to Port Arthur, other- 
wise these forty guns will become trophies which will have a very depressing 


The question of reinforcing the Russian flanks by the 
fleet had often been suggested by General Stoessel, but the 
only result at Kinchou was that the gunboat Bobr and tor- 
pedoboats Briki and Burny were sent to Talienwan Bay. The 
Bobr did excellent work in connection with the battle. 

None of the 13,000 reserve was used to check the retreat 
of the Russians at Kinchou, which by many authorities has 
been characterized as disgraceful. The army was badly 
demoralized, as shown by a false alarm about midnight fol- 
lowing the battle. A shout "The Japanese cavalry" caused 
a stampede at Perepljotny, and much excitement, confusion, 
and a number of casualties were the result. 

The Russian General Staff reporting on the outcome of 
this battle closes with the following emphasized comment: 

Thus, thanks to the carelessness and to the defective orders of our leaders, 
the victory was given to the Japanese. 

After the battle General Stoessel sent reports of pre- 
ceding events on May 26, 27th, two on the 28th, and the last 
one on May 30th. In all of these reports we see apprehension 
as to the future and strong cries for help. In the first he 
writes "quick and strong help is absolutely necessary." In 
the 3rd he writes the same, and in the 5th unless we find 
"Immediate and strong help, consisting of not less than 
three Divisions and a Cavalry Division, it may be too late; 
here ends everything." In these reports we find such ex- 
pressions as "we will fight to the last," "As long as we hold 
these advanced positions Port Arthur is not besieged," etc. 
In reports two and five are found renewals of the recom- 
mendations referring to Fock and Nadejin for rewards. The 
renewal of the recommendation of the reward of St. George's 
Cross after the Battle of Kinchou is astonishing and shows 
that he either did not know enough about the matter to pass 
upon the merits of the case or made his recommendations 
with corrupt motive. 

Considerations as to Mission of Fortress and Fleet 

Requests were again made to the fleet commander to 
support the flanks of the army but Admiral Vitgeft demurred 
and finally agreed to send out some gunboats for that pur- 
pose. A little later General Stoessel insisted that the squadron 
should put to sea. There existed good reasons for not going 
out at that particular time, in the opinion of the Admiral 
and for the time the fleet remained inside the harbor. 


After a meeting in which naval and military officers 
considered the question, Stoessel took up the question with 
higher authority, and finally received the following definite 
instructions from the Viceroy, stating in clear language basic 
principles governing the case. 

1. The fortress is to be energetically defended in order to serve to the 
last as a place of protection to the fleet. 

2. The fleet is under the absolute control of the Chief of the Fleet, 
for which reason its departure from the harbor is to take place in accord- 
ance with Admiral Vitgeft's judgment. 

3. Your duty, as superior military commander, consists in your 
making use, to the utmost, of all the resources of an obstinate defense of 
the fortress, and under no circumstances will it be assumed that to save 
the fortress the fleet is to be sacrificed. 

On June 13, Stoessel received two telegrams delivered via 
Cheefoo, carried by a junk. The first referred to the equip- 
ment of the fortress and its food supply and adds that relief 
will follow and finishes with these words: 

You must arm yourself with not only an unshakable firmness and courage 
but also with patience. An over-hasty march for your relief with insufficient 
forces will bring us only reverses instead of success. 

Stoessel Begs for Reinforcements 

The second telegram appears to be an answer to the 
telegram from Stoessel after the battle of Kinchou, in which 
he demanded immediate and strong help. In the beginning 
of the message General Kuropatkin says: 

A year ago you declared to me with pride and courage on the walls of 
the fortifications of Port Arthur, which then were not nearly so strong as 
today, that Port Arthur would stand the attack of the whole Japanese 
Army. Today, however, you report that the fortress demands immediate 
and strong help. Such declaration is, however, only proper when the 
commandant and the troops of a fortress have fulfilled their duty to their 
Czar and country; have held back for a long time overwhelming numbers 
of the enemy; have caused him severe losses; and have exhausted their 
ammunition and their food supply. Such declarations from you at this 
time show me that you have lost faith in the impregnability of the fortress; 
this is highly dangerous, because such a loss of faith of the supreme military 
commander in the bravery of his troops and the strength of the fortifications 
can easily spread to those under him. I explain your demoralization only 
by a momentary indisposition. 

In a more favorable condition than Port Arthur a fortress can hardly 
find itself. You have at your disposal over 27 excellent rifle battalions, 
several naval battalions, and an armed militia whose entire strength ex- 
ceeds four Japanese divisions. Their divisions have less strength than 
ours. You will have during the first part an opponent about equal to your 
own strength, for they must always have a strong force to cover them from 


the north. However, if the Japanese bring six divisions against you, you 
will have two defenders against three attackers. At Tieurentschin one 
fought against five and at Kinchou the 5th Regiment engaged twelve Japan- 
ese regiments and then only retreated by order. Answer the Japanese 
with energy and courage, attack them unexpectedly at night and remember 
that they do not like the bayonet. Give yourself, where it is demanded, 
example of personal courage; with such helpers as Smirnoff, Fock, Kondra- 
tenko, and Nadejin, you will work wonders. Take care that everyone 
from the lowest to the highest is animated with a strong will to conquer 
or to die, then the complete victory which Russia needs will surely be ours. 
I have sent forward a strong detachment towards Vafangou, and will soon 
advance again. 

To the second telegram Stoessel replied: 

I report frequently as to the condition of the troops. I wish to call 
attention to the fact that I, like the troops, am animated with courage, 
and that we are maintaining ourselves on the advanced positions and do 
not let the enemy approach Port Arthur. I am not only not depressed 
but animate the spirits of all. I am, God be thanked, in good health. I 
asked for prompt help considering the time and distance. I am firm and 
keep up the spirits of the troops. You have gotten an entirely false picture 
of my reports. If I brought out the necessity for immediate reinforcements, 
1 naturally did not expect, considering the time and distance, that they 
would come at once but only called attention to the tremendous significance 
of Port Arthur and that the Japanese had picked it as their principal point 
of combat for their operations. 

The situation of the Japanese on the Kwangtung Peninsula 
in the beginning of June was highly favorable to the Russians; 
who in no way took advantage of the same; on the contrary, 
General Stoessel was in constant dread of the enemy taking 
the offensive. 

The report of General Stoessel wherein he had requested 
strong and early reinforcements for Port Arthur had not, for 
the time, made a very good impression on the Commander in 
Chief, and all the more was this impression emphasized by 
the fact that the Viceroy was thereby influenced to insist on 
promptly sending a detachment for the relief of the place. 
General Kuropatkin was opposed to any movement previous 
to the concentration of the Manchurian Army, but saw 
himself forced to push Stackelberg's detachment towards the 
south resulting in an unsuccessful battle at Vafangou on 
June 13-15. In connection with this same impression the 
statements made in the Manchurian Army by several persons 
who had come from Port Arthur, including Captains Gourko 
and Odintzow, of the General Staff, raised doubts in his mind 
as to the suitableness of General Stoessel for the supreme 
command of the defenses of Port Arthur, and the idea to 


recall him became stronger and stronger. The reasons for 
this step are given in detail in a letter of General Kuropatkin 
for the Czar on June 23rd. 

It is to be regretted exceedingly that General Stoessel has not justified 
the hope placed in him. Personally he has lost confidence in a successful 
defense of the fortress, has caused this trust to waver in his subordinates, 
and has further expressed his doubt to the Viceroy as to the possibility of 
successfully defending Port Arthur stubbornly with its garrison. He has 
sent reports direct in which he states that the number of projectiles in the 
fortress is very limited and further understated the supply of stores in the 
place. The result of these reports, which were given credence, was the 
march of Stackelberg's detachment to the south without sufficient prepar- 

On the 16th of June Captain Odintzow of the General 
Staff arrived at Kuropatkin's Headquarters from Port Arthur, 
sent there by Stoessel with penitent explanations that he 
had sent his reports too hastily, that Port Arthur requires 
no help and would be able to maintain itself for a long time 
and asked that the advance south be postponed, but it was 
then too late. The Viceroy on June 17, approved Kuro- 
patkin's request that General Stoessel be recalled from Port 
Arthur and that he be assigned to an Army Corps. The 
Viceroy had already fully approved the plan of General 
Kuropatkin but had written to Admiral Vitgeft concerning 
the rumors current about Stoessel. On June 16th Vitgeft 
replied by telegraph: 

According to my conscience I have reached the conclusion that General 
Stoessel does not entertain strong reliance on the means at his disposal. 
He changes his conclusions and his attitude very quickly, being influenced 
by circumstances and the personalities just then about him. His authority 
depends only on his rank. His entire hope for saving Port Arthur is wrapped 
up in the departure of the fleet. 

Upon receipt of this information the Commander in 
Chief and the Viceroy exchanged several telegrams as to 
who should send General Stoessel the order of recall. Finally 
on June 18th General Kuropatkin sent him the following 
telegram : 

As your command of the fortified zone is ended and you have retreated 
to the fortress, I ask you with the approval of the Viceroy to turn over your 
command of the fortress in conformity * * * ^ and to return to the 
Manchurian Army, choosing your own way, for example on a torpedoboat, 
where at the first opportunity you will be given command of an army corps. 

The contents of this message were also sent to General 
Smirnoff for his information. This telegram of the 18th of 


June arrived at the Staff of the Fortified Zone on the 26th 
and was deciphered by a General Staff officer. It was sent 
to General Stoessel by his Chief of Staff who was directed 
by Stoessel to consider the message as not received, and 
to keep silence as to its contents. Thus was the telegram 
addressed to Smirnoff suppressed and up to the end of the 
siege he knew nothing of it. 

Stoessel made no reply to the first telegram from the 
Commander in Chief. It was only when a second telegram 
of the same content and a written order dated July 2, arrived, 
that Stoessel answered General Kuropatkin, in which he 
attempted to prove how necessary he was for Port Arthur, 
and how fatal his departure would be for the defense of the 
place, ending his reply: 

If, however, in spite of what I say, you regard it necessary, I will con- 
sider it my duty to take all measures to carry out the order. I must, how- 
ever, remark that at present all communication is made difficult by the 
increased vigilance as to vessels running out. 

Kuropatkin left this letter unanswered, and the question 
of his recall was never brought up again. 

Under the most urgent instructions from the Viceroy, 
the fleet prepared to take the sea, running out on June 23rd. 

Fock's Detachment Continues its Arrangements 
for Retreat 

The battle of Huinschan was fought on June 26, and at 
7 p. M. Fock, without awaiting to clear up the situation, 
which was in no sense critical nor urgent, gave orders to 
retreat to Wolf Hills — the movement to be completed by the 
morning of the 27th. Fock and Stoessel were not in accord 
as to this move. Stoessel wished to retake Huinschan, al- 
though as was his custom he would not give an order to do 
so. A telegram at 1 a. m. from Stoessel to Fock stating his 
wishes did not cause the latter to change his mind, or his 
determination to withdraw. Stoessel desired to wait until 
morning for further information as to the advance of the 
enemy, and finally on the morning of the 27th the retreat was 
stopped by General Stoessel who had been influenced by Gen- 
eral Kondratenko. The Japanese knew nothing of this retreat 
and had not observed that the positions had been abandoned; 
the same were re-occupied by Fock's men and held for one 
month longer. Stoessel's order to Fock on the morning of the 
27th illumines Stoessel's indecision and shows his inability to 


give definite orders. He directed him to be sure to remain 
on the advanced positions, but approved his arrangements 
for retreat. 

Fock did finally halt his movement and return to the 
position on the morning of the 27th but it is stated that it 
was not due to Stoessel's orders but to the facts that the 
Japanese had not noticed the retreat and had not made the 
slightest preparation to advance. 

General Fock's Secret Report Direct to 
General Stoessel 

In reference to an attack upon redoubt No. 2 by Lieutenant 
Njemschenko with one company in combination with other 
detachments, which failed upon the night of August 29-30, 
and to the resulting failure, General Fock wrote a secret re- 
port although he was not on any duty connected with this 
or other military operations. In the report he ignored Smir- 
noff by whose orders the attack or sortie was made with the 
idea of recapturing the redoubt. In a long drawn out state- 
ment he criticises the Fortress Commandant, his own command- 
ing officer, and comments upon the depressing effect of the 
losses and failure upon the command, and concludes with 
his opinions upon the uselessness of such attempts. He 
further states as his opinion that the position had no significance 
in the defense and that he had written to General Kondratenko 
to that effect in special reference to the proposed attacks on 
redoubts 1 and 2, set for the night of August 24-25, but post- 
poned by the Commandant of the Fortress because it was 
not viewed favorably by General Kondratenko. General 
Stoessel issued an order in reference to this particular case 
and directed that in future no such attempt of assault should 
be repeated without his personal approval in every case. 

The Russian General Staff in commenting upon the 
merits of the case says: 

However, it must be remarked here that the small distance intervening 
between the redoubts held by the Japanese, the Chinese Wall, and Forts 
Nos. II and III, it was extremely dangerous for the fortress, and the re- 
capture of these redoubts was a measure of extreme necessity. Had the 
forces required for this task and their organization been given proper at- 
tention, the results would probably have been different and would un- 
doubtedly have had great beneficial effect upon the defense. 

Stoessel Appointed Aide to the Czar 
On August 30th a telegram came from the Czar appoint- 


ing General Stoessel to be his Aide. This favor was given in 
appreciation of the repulse of the first general assault of the 
Japanese upon the fortress. By this appointment Stoessel's 
power was greatly strengthened in Port Arthur, through the 
moral influence of such a distinction. 

On September 23, General Stoessel made a telegraphic 
report to the Czar of the events of the last few days. At the 
end of the message he said: 

Ammunition I have not received; the saving of projectiles however, 
whose supply is becoming less, robs us of the opportunity to combat with 
success the artillery of the enemy and to cause assaulting colunms heavy 
losses. The troops fought heroically. All even to the last man are impelled 
by a strong will to hold Russia's bulwark in the Far East to the last drop 
of blood. The near exhaustion of the ammunition supply, however, threatens 
to make all the exertions to be in vain. 

On September 30 another report was sent to the Czar, 
the Viceroy and the Commander in Chief. He therein reports 
the progress of events and closes with the information "The 
ammunition asked for on September 23rd has not arrived." 

On October 8th Stoessel ordered that owing to the near- 
ness of the enemy's sappers to the works that sorties of small 
parties of from three to five men be made at night. 

Council of Defense Convened on October the 29th 

The condition of Forts Nos. II and III was critical. A 
Council of Defense was called on October 29th to consider it. 
General Fock was of the opinion that the place would soon be 
taken by assault and sought to convince General Stoessel that 
it was necessary to prepare the forts to be blown up. The 
latter directed the Commandant of the Fortress to undermine 
both forts as well as Intermediate Work No. 3, and Kurgan 
Battery, and gave orders that as soon as the enemy should 
enter them to blow them up without fail. The Fortress Com- 
mander made the necessary preparations at once. On Fort 
No. Ill the work was partly executed. On Fort No. II, 
however, at the request of the Fort Commander, it was 
postponed, as he was of the opinion that thereby the troops 
holding it would be shaken in themselves as well as in their 

By November the 8th the supply of meat was completely 
exhausted. On the 14th there was pork and preserved meats 
with live stock on hand to last the whole garrison one day. 
Preserved meat was issued to the sick while the rest of the 


troops ate horse flesh. Due to poor sustenance, several 
epidemics spread. During the period 14th of October to 14th 
of November, the sick were 51 officers and 2452 men exclusive 
of wounded. 

Cold weather came on the 15th of November; the cold 
and constant work repairing damages caused General Stoessel 
to issue a secret order, directing that all work on the second 
and third lines should cease, and thus it fell out that when 
the first line was taken neither of the others were strong 
enough to make any kind of a defense. 

On December the 8th General Stoessel convened the 
Defense Council for consideration of the general reserve 
which had been completely exhausted, and other matters 
which the loss of 203 Meter Hill had brought to the front. 
At the end of this meeting, Colonel Reis, Chief of Staff of the 
Fortified Zone, by direction of General Stoessel, brought up 
the question for discussion, as to how far the fortress was to be 
defended, that is when it had to surrender so as to save a 
massacre in the town and useless murder of the troops and 
the inhabitants. 

The Fortress Commandant stated that the only measure 
of the length of defense of Port Arthur was the amount of 
stores on hand, which would last up to January 1st, 1905, in 
case no extraordinary events would materially change the 
state of affairs of the besieged fortress. The majority of the 
council agreed with the ideas of General Smirnoff and thought 
that debating the question as to the surrender of Port Arthur 

In the existing circumstances at Fort No. II, General 
Fock considered the garrison too large, and that the troops 
of the place should not be entirely withdrawn but the fort 
should be in the hands of sentinels. General Stoessel sent 
General Kondratenko and General Grigorenko to Fort No. II 
to consider the question. They came to the conclusion that: 

By blowing up the hostile mine galleries under the wall of the fort that 
the entire front wall of the fort would be destroyed, but that the side walls 
would not be injured for more than 15 to 20 meters from the salients. 

General Kondratenko was of the opinion that if the 
troops would fall back at the proper time behind the retrench- 
ment there would be no danger except to the sentinels who 
would have to remain in the danger zone. These opinions 
were not accepted by General Stoessel, and Kondratenko was 
again ordered to take up the question with General Gorbatov- 


ski and Lieutenant-Colonel Naiimenko. General Kondraten- 
ko was killed while at this conference in a casemate in Fort 
No. II and the settlement of the question was left to the 
new commander of the land defense — General Fock — who 
then carried out his first idea of reducing the garrison. 

Fort No. II Blown Up and Captured 

At 1 p. M. on the 18th the parapet wall was blown up 
by the Japanese but their first assault was repulsed and the 
assailants driven back into the ditch. General Fock had 
observed the fighting at the fort from Kuropatkin Lunette 
and considering holding it as impossible, asked Stoessel for 
permission to vacate it and then reported that he had done 
so to General Gorbatovski. The latter did not agree with 
Fock as to giving up the fort and finally asked for permission 
to hold it until it would be found impossible to hold the para- 
pet. General Gorbatovski then ordered the fort commander 
to take the parapet and informed him that he would send a 
company of sailors to support him. Two attempts upon the 
parapet failed and the Japanese began to jump over into the 
middle of the parade. A report of this to General Gorbatovski 
decided him to give up his efforts upon the parapet and hold 
on long enough to allow the miners to complete their work 
and then after leaving the place to blow it up. He then 
directed that intrenchments be made from the left flank of 
Kuropatkin Lunette to the Chinese Wall to protect the troops 
from the enemy in No. II, but at midnight received a message 
from General Fock to the effect that he did not intend to 
hold Kuropatkin Lunette with stronger forces than those 
holding it at the time. 

I am in favor of reducing the force there and we shall soon have to 
vacate the same. An assault can always be beaten off by bringing up the 
reserves, and even if these do not arrive at the right time it will not be a 
misfortune. The main defense must be organized at the Chinese Wall in 
front of Battery B. 

On December 22nd General Stoessel sent a telegram to 
General Kuropatkin as to the condition of affairs in the 

My situation is very difTicult: the supply of ammunition is exhausted, 
the number of defenders is every day less. Only a small part of the men 
are now healthy. The 28-cm. shells destroy everything on the forts as 
well as in the place. Up to this time no reinforcements have come and 
we are now besieged in the eleventh month. I have no reports from you. 


I do not know where the army may be, and I ask again for speedy help, 
and repeat again the situation is very serious. 

After a desperate resistance Fort No. Ill was captured 
on December 28th, thus leaving Intermediate Work No. 3 in 
great danger. General Stoessel called the Council of War on 
December the 29th to consider further operations. The 
whole council excepting Stoessel, Fock, Reis, and two or 
three others out of 22 members, held to the opinion that the 
resistance should be continued on the first line. 

On December 31st a Japanese mine was exploded under 
Intermediate Work No. 3. General Gorbatovski on Decem- 
ber 20, considered it advisable that the garrison should have 
sand bags ready to occupy the parapet. He considered it 
the safest way to proceed after an explosion. On the other 
hand General Fock, in a series of verbose instructions forbade 
this as a useless proceeding and ordered Gorbatovski to take 
up positions to prevent with rifle fire and bombs, the enemy 
from establishing himself on the parapet. 

Intermediate Work No. 3 Blown Up and Captured 

General Gorbatovski had sent out the scout command of 
the 28th Regiment to reinforce Intermediate Work No. 3 and 
had sent report thereof to General Fock who during the whole 
of the 28th was at the Impane of the 3rd defense line (wall of 
the enceinte) from which place Fock sent his reply. 

It is very unfortunate that you have sent out the scout command as 
a reUef to something which can not be relieved and the only result will be 
the destruction of the same. I ask you to bring back this command at 
once to a safe place. The men are dear to us but we are murdering them 
with open eyes. 1 ordered that the garrison of the Work be not reinforced — 
has that been done? 

When General Stoessel heard that the garrison had been 
cut off and were in a desperate situation, he informed them 
that they had done all that could be expected of them and 
gave them permission to surrender. 

After the capture of Intermediate Work No. 3, the 
Chinese Wall was attacked. As soon as General Fock learned 
of the fall of this work, he ordered the commanders of the north 
and west fronts to send five companies of the reserve to the 
old town. They were posted on the wall around the enceinte. 
As a result there remained just forty-five men in the reserve. 
The attack of the Chinese Wall was beaten off the first time, 
but at 6:30 p. m. was threatened again. Gorbatovski had 


no more reserves, and it was certain that he could not hold 
that part of the wall between No. Ill and the Eagle's Nest. 
He therefore at 8:15 p. m., based upon instructions from 
General Fock, fell back from the first to the second line of 

Owing to the importance of Eagle's Nest, General Gor- 
batovski called Captain Galizinski, appointed him commandant 
thereof, and directed him to hold the position at any cost, 
and arrangements were made to increase the force at that 
point. Matters became so desperate finally that General 
Gorbatovski, having no orders, asked General Fock if it was 
intended to take up the third line of defense, since, if it were 
such intentions, he would like instructions. Fock sent to 
Stoessel a message to the effect that, inasmuch as the Chinese 
Wall up to Intermediate Work No. 2 was not vacated by him 
yesterday, the situation has become so much worse that a 
successful holding of the prearranged 2nd line of defense 
on the Un-named and Metrofan Hills, in the opinion of General 
Gorbatovski, is impossible. In spite of this, though General 
Fock ordered him to hold the second line, and informed him 
that the defense of the 3rd line had been excluded. 

Soon after General Fock sent Lieutenant-Colonel Lebed- 
inski. Commander of the 2nd Section, an order to vacate the 
Little Eagle's Nest, the Kuropatkin Lunette, the Chinese 
Wall and Battery B, fall back and place himself under the 
commander of the first section. The substance of this order 
was transmitted to General Gorbatovski through whom it 
had not been sent, and he replied that he had given no one 
any such order and that under no circumstances was it to be 
carried out. He then requested verification from the Fortress 
Commander. General Smirnoff replied that he had given no 
one any such order and directed that Battery B be held at 
any price. The Commander of the 2nd Section, owing to the 
increased hostile fire resulting from the enemy's capture of 
the Eagle's Nest, etc., reported to General Fock that General 
Gorbatovski had not authorized him to vacate Battery B, 
Upon receipt of this. General Fock wrote an order to the 

Your Excellency will have to give orders immediately to vacate Battery 
B. Do not compel me to use other means to have you do this. The Kur- 
gan Battery, the Laperoff, the Wladimir, and Un-named Hill are to be 
held at any price. 


Stoessel Proposed Capitulation to Nogi 

On receipt of the report from General Fock, already 
mentioned, at 3:50 p. m. January 1st, General Stoessel made 
the following remarks as to the impossibility of defending the 
wall about the enceinte: "Absolutely correct, there is no 
doubt about it." Thereupon he directed his Chief of Staff to 
write a letter to General Nogi proposing to surrender the 
fortress and asking that officers be appointed to consider his 
proposal. Negotiations were completed next day and the 
place passed to the hands of the Japanese on January 2nd, 

General Stoessel then directed the Commandant of the 
Coast Defense to have a torpedoboat ready with steam up, so 
that in case of necessity, important documents and the flags of 
the troops, could be saved and taken to Cheefoo. General 
Fock was directed to gather all the flags and convey them to 
one place in the town. 

The facts herein given embody the statements and opin- 
ions of the Russian General Staff in their study of the history 
of the war as presented in their full report. The details of 
the events which have a bearing upon the question now 
under consideration are given in full at times, possibly to a 
point of tiresomeness but without this a clear comprehension 
of the subject could not be placed before the reader. 

The characters who took part in this great event and 
influenced it either in its antecedents or during the investment 
and capitulation of the fortress would have in many ways 
overstrained any system of organization and administration 
and it is now essential to look a little more carefully into the 
characters of the men themselves, who through their behavior 
and records cover the interesting period now under discus- 

Principal Characters Participating in the Defense 

The characters which should be embraced under the 
above scope of these remarks are the following well known 
persons already mentioned. 

Grand Duke Alexieff, Viceroy, and Admiral of the Fleet. 

Lieutenant-General Stoessel, Supreme Commander of the 

Fortress and the Fortified Zone of the Kwangtung Peninsula. 


Lieutenant- General Smirnoff, Commandant of the Fortress 
of Port Arthur. 

Admiral Makaroff, Admiral and Chief of the Fleet at Port 
Arthur from March 8th to April 13, when he was killed. 

Lieutenant-General Fock, Commanding the 4th East Si- 
berian Rifle Brigade, in Command of the General Reserve in 
Port Arthur from the close investment of the place until 
August 21, and in Command of the Land Defenses from 
December 16 to the end of the siege, January 2, 1905. 

Admiral Vitgeft, Chief of the Fleet from departure of 
Alexieff on May 5th, 1904, to date of his death in the battle 
of the 10th of August off Port Arthur. 

As these men were all more or less bound up in the fate of 
Port Arthur, additional information from new sources con- 
cerning them will be essential to determine in how far each 
may have hastened or delayed the capitulation, and further 
to ascertain what portions of the disaster were due to personal 
and what to material and organic defects. 

Alexieff was appointed Viceroy in the fall of 1903. He 
first comes into notice in connection with Port Arthur in the 
effort made to reduce the new and developing possession to 
some kind of organization in anticipation of a war with Japan 
which by the latter half of 1903 seemed inevitable. 

He appears to have very limited knowledge of military 
affairs, and still less of the special military problem into which 
he was thrust at that time. He appears to have had more 
knowledge of fleets and ships; and in the foregoing notes it 
will be seen that he displays a fair appreciation of the mission 
of the Pacific Squadron in the Far East and had a commander 
of the same been available such as the records indicate that 
Makaroff would have been, the fleet might have had a much 
more enviable record. 

Alexieff does not appear to have accomplished anything 
of importance in connection with his duties at Port Arthur 
and appears to have had the faculty of mixing things up and 
of initiating policies that were either harmful or useless. This 
may be illustrated by his transferring ships' guns to the shore 
defenses, etc.; organizing siege trains, etc., for the field army 
when he should have known that supplies, etc., were insufficient 
as it was; transferring troops from the fortress after the 
attack and replacing them after a lapse of time with troops 
which were entirely ignorant of the country in which they 


were to operate. It was a case of "swapping horses in the 
middle of a stream." Many cases of trouble in the fortress 
may be traced to this cause. 

He left Port Arthur after the Japanese began landing at 
Pitsewo, and just succeeded in getting through to the north 
and continued to give directions as to affairs at the fortress 
after he was permanently prevented from returning and as he 
could not possibly know the existing conditions there his 
policy was simply one without any value when it was not 
injurious or impossible to execute. As a functionary he was 

Considerations Concerning the Fleet 

Vitgeft was left temporarily in command of the Fleet 
when Alexieff left for Mukden and construed this fact to limit 
his operations with the same. He therefore confined his 
action to routine work and did nothing of importance in the 
emergency. He evidently was afraid to take any responsibility 
in the premises. 

At the outbreak of the war, the ship yards and accessories 
were in no better condition than the garrison with respect to 
supplies and provisions for a prolonged defense. 

Port Arthur was designated as the winter station for the 
Russian fleet but no steps beyond dredging the west basin 
had been taken to accommodate the ships, or to provide the 
necessary equipment for a naval base, such as the case de- 
manded. It was practically in the same condition as when 
received from China in 1897. 

During the Russian administration the large dock had 
been increased to 452 feet in length but the torpedoboat dock 
remained the same as when taken over by the Russians and 
was not large enough to accommodate the destroyers. 

A great scarcity of materials for repair and construction 
of ships existed at the beginning of the war and could not be 
supplied after the war came on, particularly after the railroad 
from Mukden had been interrupted. 

Most of the skilled workmen and all unskilled men were 
Chinese employed in the shops before 1894. Finally, about 
800 Russian workmen were added to the working force. 

The machines were, as a rule, those used by the Chinese, 
the latest being dated 1899. The foundry was capable of 
small castings only, and the same applied to forgings. Repairs 
to the ships, however, went on both day and night. 


Friction between the army and navy existed and continued 
throughout the siege. The military authorities were con- 
stantly asking for guns, men, ammunition, electrical and 
mining equipment. This friction was kept under control 
while Alexieff was there and while Makaroff was in command 
of the fleet, but became more and more bitter after the town 
was isolated. 

The 4800 sailors in barracks at Port Arthur were under 
control of the military authorities and it was difficult for the 
naval authorities to obtain the required men for the fleet, and 
the yard. A large number of ships' batteries were landed, 
particularly from the disabled ships, and placed in positions 
upon the land defense line and manned by sailors. Searchlights 
and electric outfits in part furnished by the navy were manned 
by sailors. Detachments from the fleets worked digging 
trenches and constructing elaborate defenses. Signal and ob- 
servation stations were manned by personnel from the ships. 
In short all positions that required more than ordinary intel- 
ligence were manned by the fleet. 

Army officers severely criticised the inaction of the navy 
which some openly denounced as gun-shy. Cordial relations 
did not exist between Stoessel and Vitgeft. Naval officers 
dreaded to be intermediaries between them since Stoessel 
always took advantage of such occasions to vent his ill humor 
against the navy by swearing at and blackguarding them. 

Officers of the navy had had their morale shaken and 
apparently attributed to the Japanese higher qualities than 
they deserved and criticised their commander more severely 
than the circumstances justified. 

Nanshan was the key to the defense of Port Arthur. 
Japanese gunboats and a flotilla of torpedoboats assisted in 
the attack of the position on the Russian left. On the Russian 
right the Bobr assisted the Russians and caused heavy Japanese 
losses. When it is considered that a Russian force of 4600 
men at Nanshan held a Japanese army of 40,000 and inflicted 
a loss of 4000 thereon, losing only 690 themselves, while there 
were 25,000 Russians not engaged, it is reasonable to assume 
that a larger and somewhat better disposed force could have 
held it long enough to allow the repair of the warships and 
permit the co-operation of the ships with the army which 
would have reduced the critical situation into which the 
fortress was being forced. 

After the battle of Nanshan the feeling between the army 


and the navy became more and more bitter each day, the 
former saying that they could defend the front of the place 
if the navy would keep the enemy off their backs. 

The Pobieda was repaired and guns put aboard on June 
16th, but eight of her 6-inch guns and sixteen of her 12-pdrs. 
were retained for use in the land defense by General Bjely 
who said they could not be spared. Therefore when this ship 
went out twenty-two of her guns were on shore. The Persivet, 
Diana, and Pallada also left some of their guns on shore when 
they went out to battle. On June the 23rd the Russian ships 
were pursuing a portion of the Japanese squadron when sud- 
denly the Japanese turned and came at them, whereupon 
Admiral Vitgeft signalled to make full speed for Port Arthur, 
and his ships proceeded back to the harbor pursued by tor- 
pedoboats. There was no plan nor any idea of fighting. The 
Admiral had never before been afloat in command of a fleet. 

On June 18 General Stoessel learned that the Japanese 
had commenced landing another division at Dalni, and asked 
for the co-operation of the fleet. The Admiral said he would 
not take the responsibility for going out but that Stoessel 
might order it out if he chose. It was during this period the 
Amur was stripped of her guns which were put ashore and 
manned by the ship's crew. 

During the last week in July the garrison began to mount 
some old guns captured from the Chinese in the land defenses 
and work was commenced on the fortifications of 203 Meter 
Hill. The guns for the latter were taken from the Angara. 
Close blockade was established about July 26th, before which 
the blockade had been ineffective. 

Advantage was not taken of the ineffective blockade to 
replenish the supplies for the fortress, and it was only towards 
the end that efforts were made for this purpose but these were 
but few and without system. Before the 26th of May, nine out 
of every ten ships should have passed in and, from that date to 
the 26th of July, two out of every three should have succeeded 
in entering; but after the latter date much difficulty was met 
due to greater vigilance of the Japanese and fear of mines. 
However, greater efforts to run the blockade would undoubt- 
edly have had fair success. An observer estimates that during 
the close blockade at least one ship in ten would have gone in. 
From this it appears that a systematic effort to supply the place 
would have partially succeeded but events within the fortress 
indicate that the supreme commander of the place did not wish 


that provisions should be brought in since this would have 
deprived him of one of his strongest reasons for giving up the 


Another interesting character of the Russian side is that of Lieutenant- 
General Smirnoff, who was designated to succeed General Stoessel, the 
Commandant of Port Arthur. Smirnoff is reputed to be one of the best 
tacticians of the Russian army, but he is also a first rate fighting soldier 
and his breast sparkles with fourteen decorations, several of them gained 
in the Russo-Turkish war in which he won great distinction. Funnily 
enough his name signifies "meek" or "peaceful" but his nickname in the 
Russian army, a reminiscence of the exploits against the Turks is "Seven 
Devils." General Smirnoff is a man of fifty; he has commanded both a 
regiment and a brigade and was formerly Fort Commandant at Warsaw. 

On September 27th two junks laden with provisions and boots got 
into the harbor. On the next day two correspondents of foreign news- 
papers came into Port Arthur by boat from Cheefoo. Their treatment 
by General Stoessel on their arrival was the cause of some difference of 
opinion between Smirnoff and Stoessel. After being retained twenty-four 
hours in the place they were ordered to leave and were captured by the 
Japanese. (British Official Report.) 

Nojine's account of this transaction is that they came 
ashore and no steps were taken to prevent their landing; that 
in fact Stoessel encouraged them, gave them luncheon, sent 
them out to the lines and that Smirnoff took up the matter 
and insisted that they should leave the fortress. Authority 
in such cases was given exclusively to him in the orders, etc., 
for the regulation of Port Arthur. Nojine further states that 
these men were spies and gave the Japanese information. 

Very intimately connected with the construction of all the defenses 
is the organization of the garrison by which they were manned and in this 
respect the Russian arrangements were complicated by the general plan 
which had been formulated by Viceroy Alexieff for the operations of the 
Kwangtung Peninsula. By that plan Stoessel, whose proper command 
was the 3rd Siberian Corps, was to have command of the field force while 
Smirnoff was to be responsible for the fortified zone. As soon as the siege 
became inevitable, it was obvious that this dual arrangement would lead 
to friction and on July 3rd General Kuropatkin telegraphed to Stoessel to 
leave Port Arthur on a destroyer. So far from complying with these in- 
structions General Stoessel suppressed the telegram, an action which formed 
one of the counts against him at his court martial, and as he was senior in the 
garrison he practically assumed command of the fortress over the head of Gen- 
eral Smirnoff. Moreover, further intricacies were introduced in the official 
hiearchy by the presence of the staff of the 3rd Siberian Corps, in addition 
to that of the fortress. For instance, so long as the artillery of the 4th 
and 7th Siberian Rifle Divisions remained in the field it was under A-Iajor- 
General Nikitin, Chief of Artillery of the 3rd Siberian Corps; but as soon 
as it retired into the defenses, it passed under the command of Major- 


General Bjely, Chief of Fortress Artillery. Similarly, Major-General 
Raznatovski was chief of Stoessel's Staff until, owing to sickness, he was 
replaced by Colonel Reis; while at the head of the staff of the fortress was 
Lieutenant-Colonel Khvostov. Next in importance to Stoessel and General 
Smirnoff was Kondratenko of the 7th East Siberian Rifle Division who 
was placed in charge of the land defenses, in which position he won for 
himself the love and admiration of his men. Under him were three com- 
mandants of sections, Major-General Gorbatovski, Colonel Semenoff and 
Colonel Irman, who were responsible for the infantry of the eastern, northern, 
and western fronts, respectively. The artillery, however, was entirely 
independent of these officers for General Bjely reported directly to Smirnoff 
and was in no way responsible to General Kondratenko. His command 
was likewise divided into three sections, corresponding to the three sections 
of the infantry defense, which was further divided into seven or eight sub- 
sections. {British Official History of the Russo-Japanese War.) 

The peculiar organization of the fortress has already been 
mentioned. In organization, there were two commanding 
officers. General Stoessel as senior officer present and Lieu- 
tenant-General Smirnoff as fortress commander, and each had 
his own staff. This was bound to cause friction and this 
proved to be the case. There had been considerable criticism 
of the conduct of affairs of those in authority, dating from the 
battle of Nanshan for the defeat of the Russians at which 
action both Generals Stoessel and Fock were held to be largely 
responsible. The feeling against these officers had grown as 
time went on and it was not diminished by the realization of 
the difficult position in which General Smirnoff — who seems 
to have shared with General Kondratenko, the affection and 
confidence of the garrison — was placed by the presence of 
General Stoessel and his entourage. It is not within the 
province of an official history to attempt to probe too deeply 
into the causes of, or the justification for, internal dissensions 
of a domestic nature, but all matters which affect the morale 
of an army in war are of such extreme importance and so 
much has already been admitted in the case, by the proceed- 
ings of the subsequent court-martial of those responsible for 
the defense, that some mention of the unsatisfactory state of 
affairs in Port Arthur can not be avoided. From a perusal of 
the evidence given before the court, it is evident that not a 
few errors of omission and the reverse had by this time been 
committed, which, had they been known by the garrison 
would have warranted some distrust of leadership, and various 
books written by officials and others inside Port Arthur con- 
firm the fact that jealousy and intrigue ran hand in hand 
with incompetence in high places. 


To begin with, Stoessel's presence in Port Arthur at that 
time was altogether wrong both from the point of view of 
expediency, since it could only hamper the actions of the 
responsible fortress commander, General Smirnoff, and in fact 
since he had disobeyed the order to leave the fortress received 
by him early in July. It is true that he had concealed the 
fact that he had received such an order and its receipt was 
probably not a matter of common knowledge. But the 
friction and complications that were caused by the impossible 
situation created by his presence, needed no aggravation. 

General Fock's position was also anomalous. In reality 
the Commander of the 4th East Siberian Rifle Division, he 
seems to have had energies in several directions and, owing to 
the confidence reposed in him by General Stoessel, to have 
interfered over the head of General Smirnoff, his immediate 
superior, under whom he was serving. On August 21st he 
had been relieved by General Smirnoff of his command and 
all duties for disobedience of orders; but Fock continued to 
issue notes and written criticisms of a nature which created 
bitterness, aroused alarm, and were subversive of discipline. 
Thus there arose a split in the garrison within the fortress 
between General Stoessel and his clique including Fock, and 
Reis on the one side, and Smirnoff, Kondratenko and their 
partisans on the other. It is quite unnecessary to enter fur- 
ther into the causes of the dispute to appreciate what an effect 
such lack of harmony must have produced. Though the 
fortress was not absolutely cut off, news from the outside was 
so scanty that scandal and rumors were bound to grow. The 
less that was known of the details and the causes of friction 
between those in high places the more aggravated, probably, 
were the rumors current amongst those lower down, and the 
more harmful was the effect on the morale of the garrison. 
Nevertheless, in spite of such adverse influences, the spirit of 
the soldiers seems to have remained undaunted as was proved 
by the nature of the fighting which took place later on. 

General Smirnoff at one time asked the Admiral to lend 
him 600 6-inch shells on hand on the vessels. This caused 
considerable excitement and discussion amongst naval officers. 

The significance of 203 Meter Hill had been foreseen by 
Smirnoff and Kondratenko as far back as April but for some 
reason nothing was done on this hill until July. 

On the 16th of December, after Kondratenko's death, 
Stoessel appointed Fock as commander of the land defense. 


This was done without the knowledge of Smirnoff, who had 
relieved him of all duties in July, and his appointment to 
command the land defenses was adhered to in spite of Smirn- 
off's protest and the announcement to Stoessel that he proposed 
to take charge of the land defenses himself. By this time 
Stoessel had completely undermined Smirnoff who was ignored 
by him from that time onward to the end. 

Later Smirnoff protested against the abandonment of the 
first line of defense, the evacuation of the forts and the various 
positions, but Fock continued the even tenor of his way 
without regard to him. Fock always reported to Stoessel 
as to the impossible condition of the defenses and got the 
approval of his idea, and the scheme in his mind worked 
smoothly and quickly resulting in a large portion of the line 
being given up in the period between the Council of War on 
the 29th of December and the afternoon of January 1, when the 
whole east front became no longer tenable and the fortress 
was placed in condition to surrender under the most plausible 
conditions and in a manner highly gratifying to Stoessel. 

Operations during this period were not referred to Smirn- 
off. He was generally notified that a certain thing had been 
done after its execution had been effected and when no act of 
his could block the development of the scheme for an early 

The place was surrendered without Smirnoff's knowledge. 
He could do no more than protest against it; for the resolution 
of the troops gave way the moment they heard of the proposal 
to surrender and they could no longer be relied on in case he 
decided to remove Stoessel by force. For this, small blame 
can be attached to the Russian soldiers; they had been tried 
to the limit of human endurance and it is not surprising that 
the prospect of immediate relief from their sufferings snapped 
the bonds of discipline. 

It is universally agreed that Admiral Makaroff was a man 
of ability in his line. Even the Japanese noticed the change 
in the fleet and the defense of the harbor as soon as he came. 
It was a great misfortune to Russia when he was killed so 
soon after taking command of the fleet and when he was 
making such progress in bringing it to an efficient fighting 
condition. He was the only commander who had the cour- 
age to take the squadron out and maneuver therewith at sea. 

General Kondratenko was recognized as the active spirit 


everywhere and little further need be said of him. He was 
invaluable in neutralizing Fock's influence with Stoessel. He 
had the reputation of interfering with troops and problems 
that did not concern him but there was so much inefTiciency 
that it is really refreshing to find a man who had some correct 
ideas about his profession and who could execute plans with 
some idea as to w^hat he was trying to do. There were plenty 
of commanders on the ground at Port Arthur that needed con- 
siderable interference in their methods if any good was to 
come from them. 

General Fock's abilities have already been very well 
covered and but a word or two more need be said. One simple 
paragraph will be quoted to compare Fock and Smirnoff. 
Next day after the evacuation of Fort No. 11, the latter met 
the former and the following conversation took place. Smirn- 
off says: 

Why did you surrender the fort? I would have sent you as many 
reinforcements as you wanted; I have some 30,000 here in the fortress. 
By abandoning it you have undermined the root of my principle that no 
fort should pass into the enemy's hands except after the death of all of its 

Fock in his defense before the Roop Commission replies 
to this question as follows: 

I was amazed at such a question, and that a principle, of which I had 
never before heard and which is not to be found in any text-book on tactics 
or field service manual, should be assumed by the Commission to be an 
irrefutable axiom to ignore which was a crime. 

Fock was insulted at the question and expresses his sur- 
prise that the Commission should have taken up the matter. 

General Smirnoff's character throughout the siege may 
be measured by his words before the last Council of War on 
December 29th. After all had expressed their various opinions 
Smirnoff said : 

I have heard everything that has been said on the subject, and I con- 
sider it my duty to state that according to regulations there should be in 
every fortress secret instructions in which the raison d'etre of the fortress 
in the theater of war is defined. According to these instructions the Com- 
mandant is to be the judge as to the extent to which the fortress has done 
its duty and fulfilled its mission. Unfortunately, such instructions do 
not exist in this fortress. One of the objects of this fortress — to extend and 
afford a refuge and protection to the fleet — ceased when the fleet was des- 
troyed. The other object — to co-operate with the strategical plans of the 
main army by keeping employed the Japanese army now laying siege to 


US — is not finished. No matter what the opinion on the subject may be, 
the Regulations for the Guidance of Commanders of Fortresses definitely 
require them to hold out till all strength and means are exhausted, which 
with us is far from the case. Thus we must continue the defense. The 
scheme of defense conforming to the actual circumstances should be as 
follows: So long as possible we should hold the Chinese Wall, as far behind 
it as we can throw hand grenades and fire mines. To strengthen our fighting 
line we must weaken Liao-tieh-shan and Signal Hill (Fock shook his head 
and tried to interrupt). I am sure we can hold on to the Chinese Wall for 
a fortnight. Then we will fall back on the second line, i.e., Tumulus Bat- 
tery, Vladimir, Mitrofanieff, and Un-named Hills. This fine has one defect, 
that it won't be possible to keep the supports and reserves near it owing 
to scarcity of cover; but, all the same, we shall be able to hold the enemy 
for a week. Finally, there is the third line on Stonebroken Ridge, running 
from the left to the northern portion of the town wall, and from the right to 
Big Hill. It is at present well fortified, and has directly in rear of it a 
number of buildings, in which the supports and reserves can get cover. 
Thanks to the strength of this position, we should be able to hold on for 
three weeks. By that time our supplies will be running out, and then, not 
till then (raising his voice), can the question of the fortress's life be dis- 

He finished. Every one remained silent; no one liked to 
speak. The Commandant had spoken what all knew to be the 

Stoessel closed the meeting with the words: 

Well, gentlemen, I see that all of you almost are in favor of a further 
defense, and we will carry it on accordingly. Russian soldiers could not 
act otherwise. I am extremely grateful to all of you for coming to such a 

These remarks of Stoessel should be taken into account 
in considering the events which followed within the next three 

Colonel Irman having been informed by Stoessel that he 
had surrendered the fortress asked to be sent to Cheefoo on a 
destroyer. Stoessel flatly refused, saying: 

Good Heavens, what are you talking about? What are we to do with 
all the gold vases? How am I to get them away? Why, the Japanese 
might get them; we must save them. 

Irman replied: 

If you want to make certain that the Japanese don't get them, sir, I 
should throw them into the sea. 

Stoessel was referring to the gold vases that he had 
looted from the Pekin Palace and which he kept in Port Arthur. 
The questions put to Stoessel when before the Commission of 
Inquiry are interesting and throw much hght on Stoessel's 


character and motives. The inquiry is too long to reproduce 
or refer to further than to say that Stoessel's charges upon 
which he was tried by court martial were based mainly upon 
the results of this investigation and the fact that he was tried 
upon a great number of charges and specifications speaks for 

"the truth about PORT ARTHUR" (nOJINE) 

This book gives a great many details as to the internal 
operations and conditions that are not found in any other 
book or publication. Nojine naturally would hear more of the 
details and being in charge of a paper would gather up the 
facts and present them in his paper or retain them for the 
future. He was a warm friend and supporter of Smirnoff and 
Kondratenko, and supports their action on all occasions. 

Stoessel, in his own defense before the court martial, says 
that Nojine and another Russian correspondent escaped from 
Port Arthur and that the latter was captured by the Japanese 
to whom he gave information as to the situation. Nojine says 
in his book that he left Port Arthur at the end of the siege 
and went to Cheefoo on the Rastoropny as an officer of the 
fortress with the knowledge and direction of the Commandant 
and all of the Admirals, and that Stoessel reported to the 
Russian Consul there that Nojine was a Japanese spy. The 
two stories do not agree in any particular and are mentioned 
to introduce the question of credibility between the two. 
This is an important matter with respect to what happened 
within the fortress during the year of 1904. The reliability of 
Stoessel and even his credibility may be judged by the events 
so far described by the Russian General Staff and confirmed 
by official documents of that time. In reference to the con- 
trovers3^ between Fock and Smirnoff as to the surrender of 
a fort, the following lines closing Appendix I in the Truth 
About Port Arthur shed some light upon the character of 
Nojine as compared to Stoessel, Fock, and their clique: 

The principle of the non-surrender of a fort should be instilled into all 
soldiers from the day they join. A good soldier knows that he must be 
the first to lay down his hfe for his country in war, and remembers during 
the whole campaign that success is founded on a clear appreciation of the 
principle of self sacrifice by all, from Commander-in-Chief to private soldier. 

War is a death summons. 

Death is the soldier's crown. 

Every soldier, that is, in the true sense of the word, is one who is wiUing 
to die in the struggle, and sees in death the highest end in his caUing. By 


this feeling he exalts the morale of his comrades to an extent which insures 
victory in the end. 

Under circumstances of modern war it is more than ever necessary 
that this should be instilled into the individual as well as into the mass, 
for the surroundings of a modern battle are more harrowing than they 
were in days of old. Successful war will be to that side in which this feeling 
is most deep, which is best equipped, and which possesses the most skilful 


The following extracts are taken from some of the war 
correspondents who entered the place with the victorious 
Japanese Army, giving in their first and also in their general 
impressions abundant confirmatory evidence of the conditions 
within the fortress. 

W. Richmond Smith, Correspondent for the Associated 
Press and Renter's Telegram Company 

Referring to his first meal in Port Arthur after entering 
the place. 

We were given the best tiffin we had eaten for many a day, including 
fresh meat, good bread and all sorts of delicacies with abundance of cham- 
pagne. All agreed that General Stoessel was not the right man, and that 
he had done the surrendering against the judgment of his best officers in 
the garrison though it was frankly admitted everyone was glad when it did 
come, except some of the officers and very many of the men who openly 
charged many things against General Stoessel after they had marched 
into the city from the positions and broken their rifles and thrown them 
into the harbor. * * * 

The most remarkable thing about the captured city was the healthy, 
well-fed appearance of the non-combatant population. The tiffin we had 
just enjoyed helped to explain it all. There was any quantity of privately 
owned stores of provisions in the place that could be had for a price, and no 
besieged city had ever been farther away from anything approaching famine. 
These statements were in a large measure corroborated by statements 
made regarding conditions which existed in the besieged city by Russian 
officers whom I met on board ship returning from Dalni to Japan a few 
days later. Though their statements in many cases conflicted, there was 
a startling unanimity of opinion against the conduct of General Stoessel, 
on the ground that the position could have held out longer, and conviction 
was also strongly expressed that it would have held out longer if General 
Kondratenko had lived. 

Norregaard, Correspondent for the Daily Mail 

In commenting upon the reasons for the capitulation of 
the fortress and Stoessel's alleged reasons for giving up the 
place, Norregaard presents the following analysis. 

Exclusive of those in hospital, the total garrison in Port Arthur on the 


day of surrender consisted of about 27,200 officers and men — the navy 
included. This force, which is a good deal in excess of what the Japanese 
estimated to be the total number at the beginning of the siege, would be 
fully adequate to make a good defense of the large section of the fortress 
still remaining in the hands of the Russians at the date of the capitulation. 
The statements concerning the sanitary situation were also partly 
misleading. There were no real epidemics of typhoid or dysentery, the 
total number of cases of the former being forty-three, and of the latter 460. 
Neither is it true that the stock of medicine and disinfectants had given 
out. But in other respects the Russian statements are perfectly correct 
and the condition of the hospitals and the state of health of the garrison 
undoubtedly greatly influenced the decision of General Stoessel. 

Still, even under the existing circumstances, I do not think that the 
fortress would have been surrendered, if General Kondratenko had not 
been killed by an 11-inch shell in the North Kikuan Fort on December 
15th. For the name that will go down to history coupled with the defense 
of Port Arthur will not be Stoessel's. He was from all I can learn nothing 
but a figure head, a weak and vain man, a martinet, unbeloved by his men, 
and little respected by his officers. The real man was Kondratenko. To- 
gether with Colonel Rachevsky, of the engineers, he had planned the forti- 
fications, and he had worked indefatigibly day and night to have them 
erected and perfected. He was always alert, always in the fighting lines 
leading and cheering his men, and sharing their hardships, always full of 
resource, ever able to check a Japanese move by a cleverly well thought 
out counter move. He was the born leader to whom everybody bowed, 
and his strong will, wide knowledge, and great personal bravery, made 
him the soul of the whole defense. He was the idol of his soldiers, who 
knew his firm intention to continue the fight to the bitter end. When he 
died, everything seemed to collapse, everybody lost heart and the party 
which, headed by Stoessel, wanted to give in got the upper nand. The 
place surrendered wisely perhaps, but not too well — and the defense which 
might have gone down to posterity as one of the finest feats of arms of all 
history was shorn of the luster which else would have attached to the memory 
of Port Arthur. 

* * * * * * :|c 

The siege of Port Arthur is a grim tragedy, but the most tragic part is 
that it was not allowed to end as a tragedy. Still it would be fair to forget, 
because of the weakness of the concluding scenes, the grand masterly drama 
which the Russians have given to history by their seven months heroic 

David H. James, of the Daily Telegraph, on the Siege 
of Port Arthur 

(From note to General Nogi stating reasons for surren- 

Sir: Taking into consideration the state of affairs at the seat of war 
in general, I find the future resistance of Port Arthur useless and in view 
of the fruitless loss of men I would like to negotiate about the capitula- 
tion. * * * (signed) Stoessel. 


The reason Stoessel gave for wishing to surrender was, according to 
the document sent to General Nogi (which might have been written before 
the outbreak of hostihties, for it bears no date) "for humanity's sake," "to 
avoid further useless waste of life." From this it would appear that there 
had been a great sacrifice of life in Port Arthur during the siege, and if 
General Stoessel's statement had been substantiated by fact, this would 
most decidedly have been sufficient reason for surrender; but on the con- 
trary there had been no great sacrifice (under 10,000) and there remained 
a garrison of over 32,000 able bodied men with which to defend the fortress. 
And when we found out that there was in Port Arthur an efficient garrison 
numbering two-thirds of the original force besieged, and that there was 
ample food and ammunition for a full month's heavy fighting, we stigmatised 
the surrender as disgraceful, and substantiated the statement with facts 
from the official Japanese returns. General Stoessel flatly contradicted 
our telegrams and defended his right to surrender in a most remarkably 
untruthful statement. The defense of General Stoessel was given to a 
representative of the Times of Ceylon, who had boarded the S. S. Australian 
(on which the generals returned to Europe) when she arrived at Colombo. 

At first General Stoessel would not commit himself, but when he was 
shown the telegram of Dr. Morrison, the famous Peking correspondent of 
the London Times, in which the surrender was described as most discredit- 
able and unjustifiable, he denied the charge in its entirety, and gave out, 
through his personal A. D. C, Lieutenant Nevelskoy, the following remark- 
able and ridiculous defense. (In order to separate my statements from 
General Stoessel's I take the liberty of quoting an editorial in the North 
China News, Shanghai, 3rd March, 1905.) 

" * * * General Reiss's first statement was as to the actual 
strength of the garrison on the first day of January last. He said 'the actual 
number of men still able to carry arms was 8000. We had 18,000 sick and 
wounded, and besides there were some 4000 non-combatants, including 
doctors, engineers, electricians, and civilians. During the siege 10,000 
were killed outright or died of wounds or sickness. The strength of our 
garrison at the beginning of the siege was, roughly speaking, 40,000.' " 

(Official Japanese report.) 

Grand total for the army 23,251 

navy 5,311 

civilians 3,645 

Total 32,207 

Sick and wounded 13,000 


(Before proceeding further I will note that I saw over 15,000 able 
bodied men entrain at Chang-ling-tsu, and Nogi's official report above, of 
the men surrendered, will amply substantiate my statement and give the 
lie to General Stoessel.) 

Further comment would be superfluous. 

The statements given by Stoessel or Reiss with reference to food, guns, 
and ammunition are likewise inaccurate or untruthful and in no way in 
agreement with the well known facts in the case. 


General Stoessel called a council of fortress commanders (council of 
war) after the death of the hero, but none save Stoessel and Reiss and 
perhaps another, would entertain the idea of a premature surrender. The 
Japanese might capture the fortress but it was not to be surrendered to them 

— this was the spirit of the council. 


Had Stoessel intended to defend the fortress to the last he would have 
followed Kondratenko's plan (as the Japanese fully expected he would), 
and made some attempt to organize the new line of defense. He did nothing. 
In fact he had long considered the position hopeless and, as events proved, 
had decided to surrender on the first provocation. So when the Japanese 
had obtained possession of Ehrlung, Sungshu, and North Fort and he was 
forced to quicken his actions and withdraw in to his second line, he found 
that the opportunity he desired for surrendering had been created. He 
had previously allowed his left wing to be crumpled up with contented 
indifference, and then when things were looking black, and without consult- 
ing anyone, and even without attempting to count the number of men he 
had in the hospitals or the strength of his garrison, he assumed that it was 
time to throw up the sponge, and the prepared document was sent to General 
Nogi. He had not the courage to face his gallant garrison and thank them 
for their defense, and bid them farewell in the captivity into which he 
forced them; and his name was received with scorn by every single ofTicer 
and man to whom I spoke on the Chang-ling-tsu plain, and they one and 
all considered his last act as a befitting ending to an arrogant, blustering 
command usurped and unworthily held. 

(In reference to his meeting with Nogi.) 

The general looked wonderfully well, with his florid face thinly covered 
with a grey beard and his thick, well knit figure well seated on his splendid 
mount. Nothing about him gave the slightest indication of fatigue or 
worry after the long siege, and he looked for all the world like a well fed 
Boer Dopper. 

There was nothing in the man that suggested confidence, nothing 
suggesting a leader. He looked what he was, a man of indifferent will, 
indifferent character, and indifferent ability, for neither strategical gifts, 
nor military studies had raised Anatole Mikhailovitch Stoessel to the posi- 
tion he occupied. 


At 11:25 A. M. the Japanese cavalcade came in sight, and in a burst of 
sunshine. General Nogi rode up and dismounted, entered the compound 
and was introduced to Stoessel. 

No greater contrast in men can be imagined. The one coarse-voiced, 
coarse-featured and heavy in person; the other gentle of voice, refined in 
feature, and keenly alert, with eyes that go into the depths of your soul, 
bringing out confidence and trust, obedience and admiration, and a man 
as great in soldierly qualities as he was tender of heart for those he com- 

The General immediately apologized for the fire that was raging in 
Port Arthur, which he regretted was due to incendiarism. He hoped the 
Japanese would soon take over the towns, as the volunteers and laborers 
were getting out of hand. 


From conversations with the Russian officers at Chang-ling-tsu station, 
and after a careful canvas of the rank and file, I was convinced by the 
unanimous opinion held, and by the manner in which lips curled when his 
name was mentioned, that Stoessel was a weak man with a loud voice and 
domineering manner — a man of no individual character or spirit, apart 
from bullying. They made it clear that he was inclined to surrender in 
August, but was prevailed upon not to do so by Kondratenko, who they 
all agreed, without a dissenting voice, was the sole defender of Port Arthur — 
had he not been killed. Port Arthur would not have surrendered. 


Although not a success, they claimed rightly that the great sortie on 
the night of the 23rd of August (planned by Kondratenko) was most oppor- 
tunely made and dislocated the plan of direct storming. Of General Stoessel 
thej'^ said unmentionable things, and but for the untimely interference of 
a staff colonel I would have heard a little scandal which the court-martial 
may disclose. 


A few minutes later General and Madame Stoessel drove up * *. 
The General's appearance was received with marked coldness, and many 
officers walked off the platform with sneering expressions on their faces. 


The garrison, of course, cannot be held responsible for the disgrace- 
ful surrender, and that they were able and willing to fight was proved by 
their ability to tramp eighteen miles, and their condition and morale at the 
time of surrender. 

Unfortunately the world, saturated with Stoessel telegrams and con- 
cocted "Cheefoo-leries" will never be altogether swayed from the first 
impressions formed about the heroic qualities of General Stoessel; that, 
time alone will correct. 


Truly, the more one thinks of the defense offered by General Stoessel 
for his disgraceful surrender, the more one is inclined to believe the un- 
fortunate General's mind was temporarily unhinged by fear. 

Ashmead Bartlett 

Port Arthur — The Siege and Capitulation 

(In reference to the fleet.) 

* * * It is hard to believe that at the end of October any absolute 
necessity existed for placing the crews on shore. If it was unnecessary, 
such an action was inexcusable, for it at once exposed the now precious 
lives of the sailors to further decimation, and a ship's company would be 
of little use after two months of such service. This transfer of ships' crews 
and guns from sea to land service shows better than anything else the un- 
healthy spirit and lack of moral force which pervaded the Russian Naval 
Command. Sailors who come to a decision, months before it is necessary 
to decide, not to fight at sea are not worthy of the name. Yet this was the 
course adopted by the Russian admirals. All the fight had been knocked 
out of them on August the 10th and after that, come what might, they 
were determined not to risk another encounter on their natural element. 


General Stoessel decided to surrender. He only looked for a suitable 
opportunity; but he could not very well take the step until the enemy 
had captured some of the permanent works, for it must be remembered 
that up to December the 5th not a single one of these had fallen. From 
the date of the capture of 203 Meter Hill the surrender, as far as Stoessel 
was concerned, was a foregone conclusion. Until December 15th, how- 
ever, he was not really master of the situation, for Kondratenko still lived, 
and the spirit and energy of that brave man made itself felt throughout 
the entire garrison. As long as he was present there would be no talk of 
capitulation among the soldiers, whatever the Commander in Chief might 
have privately decided. * * * With his death the spirit of resistance 
fled but still no decent excuse could be found for capitulation. 

On December the 18th the Japanese blew up and stormed the North 
Keikwansan Fort; this was followed by a similar success on December 
28th, when Nirusan succumbed to a determined attack; and on the 31st 
of the same month Shojusan also fell into their hands. This gave Stoessel 
the necessary opportunity for capitulation; he seized it with an almost 
indecent haste, for at 4 p. m. on the afternoon of January 1, he sent his 
parlementaire to arrange a meeting of the delegates. A few days before 
the capitulation a conference was held of all the fort commanders and the 
majority voted in favor of further resistance. 

:{! ^ ^ :{: :H ^ ^ 

From these facts (determined from the inventory made after the sur- 
render) it will be seen that ample food existed in the store-house to supply 
the garrison for quite four months at full rations. * * * Moreover, 
Stoessel himself was largely to blame for this condition of affairs, which 
touches the question of the food supply as well as that of the hospitals. 
Incredible as it may seem, no attempt was made at the commencement of 
the siege to collect under military control the large private stores of food 
existing in the town. It is true that an order was issued to the effect that 
all stores of food and wine must be sold to the military authorities at rates 
fixed by headquarters. 

Stoessel appears never to have realized the importance of keeping the 
non-military element under control. It is on those who are not engaged 
in the actual fighting that time hangs most heavily, and the seeds of dis- 
cord and dissension that constantly spring up in that class may spread with 
disastrous results into the ranks of the soldiers themselves. General Stoessel 
stated in his interview with General Nogi that one of his reasons for surrender- 
ing was the impossibility of keeping the laborers in order. This is a strange 
confession for the Commander-in-Chief of a besieged town, with authority 
of life and death in his hands, to make to the head of the besieging army. 

Whenever a feeling of general demoralization is found in a garrison, 
it can nearly always be traced to the highest in command. General Stoessel's 
supineness was reflected in the conduct of his officers. The civihans — not 
perhaps the most reliable of witnesses — declared that on days when it was 
perfectly well known that an assault would be made, many of the officers 
were found parading the streets or drinking in the wine shops content to 
leave their commands to their non-commissioned officers. The latter 
always behaved admirably while the steadfast courage of the private soldier 


rose superior to every hardship and suppUed the confidence their com- 
manders failed to inspire. 

ilp ^ ^ * ^ 4: ^ 

If Stoessel is to be blamed for his premature surrender, far more blame 
must attach to those who failed to prepare for war. Especially should 
Russia have sacrificed every other consideration to render Port Arthur 
impregnable. Had this been done, the Pacific Squadron might have re- 
mained at anchor until the Baltic Fleet appeared on the scene. No nation 
was ever provided by nature with a finer defensive position and no nation 
ever took such poor advantage of her opportunities. If a tithe of the time 
and money spent on making a seaside resort of Dalny had been devoted to 
the proper defense of Port Arthur, how different might have been the peace 
which followed the conclusion of the war. If the Russians had fortified 
the line from Louisa Bay to Taikosan, they could have delayed the pro- 
gress of the Japanese saps against the forts for months. If the main line 
of defense had been protected from end to end by permanent forts, such as 
North Keikwansan and Nirusan, the fortress might never have capitulated, 
or at least not until after the arrival of the Baltic Fleet. When we con- 
sider the desperate character of the fighting which was required before 
even the most isolated and ill-protected positions were carried, it is easy 
to understand the price Russia paid for the lack of adequate precautions. 

The Court-Martial and Its Results 

Generals Stoessel, Smirnoff, Fock, and Reis were tried by 
court-martial in the winter of 1907-8. This was three years 
after the completion of the operations around Port Arthur 
where the charges had originated. Investigations by commit- 
tees convened for that purpose had recommended this action. 

Lieutenant-General Stoessel was tried upon ten charges, 
several of which carried several specifications. The reader will 
have gathered from the foregoing evidence what in a general 
way was the nature of the offenses. They covered many other 
details than those herein mentioned, since the details of all his 
alleged shortcomings could not be included in this discussion. 

He was found guilty of the following, which are briefly 
stated : 

Of having surrendered the fortress prematurely. 

Of having entered into negotiations to surrender the 
fortress without having called together the Council of War as 
required by regulations and in spite of the Council of War that 
met two days previously, which had passed definitely and ad- 
versely upon the proposition of surrender. 

Of having permitted General Fock to circulate "Notes" 
subversive of discipline. 

Of having, on December 29th, telegraphed false informa- 
tion as to the situation to the Czar, etc. 


Major-General Reis was tried for having knowledge of 
Stoessel's intention to surrender prematurely, and in assisting 
in the same by exaggerating the critical state of the place. 

Of having prematurely prepared the dispatch of proposal 
to surrender the fortress. 

Of having failed to demand definite instructions from 
Stoessel as to terms to be accepted in drawing up the agree- 
ment of capitulation and accepting articles of capitulation 
derogatory to the honor and dignity of Russia, etc. 

General Reis was acquitted on all charges. 

Lieutenant-General Fock was tried for neglect of duty and 
disobeying instructions in reference to the battle of Kinchou. 
Five specifications. 

Of having left the position of Kinchou and going to the 
rear to Inchenzy Bay, although he had been instructed that 
defense of this bay would be otherwise provided for. 

Of placing but one of four regiments in the defenses of 
Kinchou, etc. 

Of failing to use his reserves at Kinchou and preventing 
two battalions ordered up by General Nadejin from joining 
the firing line. 

Of not using every means available and even the bayonet 
at Kinchou. 

Of retiring before dark at Kinchou in violation of the in- 
structions that he had received from General Stoessel. 

Of disobedience of orders in not sending reserves to the 
fighting line as ordered by the Commandant of the Fortress, 
entering into arguments as to the necessity therefor with the 
latter and finally not accompanying the last unit of his com- 
mand to the firing line. 

Of publishing a memorandum which was derogatory to the 
courage and ability of other commanders and subversive of 
good discipline. 

Of abandoning Fort No. II upon Stoessel's authority and 
not notifying the Commandant. 

Of concurring in and assisting Stoessel to surrender the 
fortress prematurely by abandoning important positions and 
threatening commanding officers of positions for not obeying 
his orders when the latter had received positive orders from 
the Commandant not to give up certain places, and by this 
action bringing about conditions which placed the fortress in 
disadvantageous position with respect to the enemy and terms 
of the capitulation. 


General Fock was found guilty of circulating the Memor- 
andum Notes but in view of the great length of time was not 
punished. He was acquitted of the other charges. 

Lieutenant-General Smirnoff was tried upon two charges. 

Of suspecting, after the surrender of Fort No. II, the 
existence of an understanding between Stoessel and Fock to 
reduce the fortress to such a state as to justify capitulation, 
and in despite of the responsibility resting upon him under 
Article 57, etc., Regulations for the Guidance of Commanders of 
Fortresses, did not deprive Fock of his command and did not 
take energetic action, etc. 

Of not having convened the Council of Defense, after 
having been informed that Stoessel had made proposals to 
the enemy to surrender and did not insist on compliance with 
regulations, etc., and not carrying out the decision of the 
Council of War of December 29, etc. 

General Smirnoff was acquitted of these charges. 

The culmination of the trial came so long after the offenses 
that it was hardly probable that evidence at that late date 
would be easily obtained to effect a conviction on many 
specifications which alleged actual facts. Now after ten years 
the evidence that can be collected and is actually available 
enables one to come to an accurate decision on all of these 
matters but it is quite probable that a court would not present 
convictions in a number of cases as charged. Besides many 
of the specifications that mark the grossest inefficiency, are in 
some cases vicious errors in judgment but probably are not 
suitable for the action of a court. 

It is not improbable that the court, except in the matters 
pertaining to the surrender of the fortress through treachery, 
took a lenient view of the alleged offenses, considering the 
whole affair as a bad and irretrievable situation felt that it 
might be well to let by-gones be by-gones. 

Stoessel received the death sentence but it was never 
executed. It was commuted to dismissal from the army and 
confinement in a fortress for ten years, but he was released 
after serving about one year in confinement. Efforts have 
recently been made to present him as a martyr, but with the 
full information before the reader it is evident that he was not 
in any sense a martyr. 



Review of the Evidence 

general introduction 

In reviewing the evidence herein presented it is interesting 
to give a few words to the views held by prominent Russian 
officials in the early days of the history of Port Arthur, dur- 
ing their efforts to prepare the same for a great naval base. 
There are a few men connected with it who appear to have 
had clearly defined ideas on certain branches of the subject, 
but none have been found who seem to have grasped the 
project in all its important elements and who were able to 
put all of these ideas together into a complete whole. 

The demand for such a base was fully recognized and its 
realization would have filled a long felt deficiency in Russia's 
development and established her as a naval power to be 
reckoned with in the Far East. The project was one of such 
magnitude that none but those experienced in military, 
naval, and political questions could comprehend the whole 
scheme, and give to each branch proper and sufficient con- 
sideration and push the undertaking forward to a prompt 
and satisfactory completion. 

Alexielf appears to have had good ideas as to the require- 
ments and proper functions of the navy, or at least developed 
them during the war, but his policies, with respect to land 
operations', generally mixed things up and brought on trouble 
without end as a result. He appeared to be incapable of 
considering both branches of the service in the same plan. 

The engineers who worked upon plans for the defense of 
the Kwangtung Peninsula had clear ideas as to what was 
required for defense but their conceptions as to the fleet and 
other matters appear to have been limited. 

Kuropatkin was of the opinion that strong fortifications 
should be provided, and used his influence with the Board to 
prevent cutting down the appropriations for the same, but 
when the war came his ideas about the place and its defense 
and the operations of the fleet appear to have lacked clearness 
and in several cases were erroneous. 

Mr. Witte practically ignored the defense of the Kwang- 
tung and worked to develop, at great cost, a magnificent 
commercial base at Dalni. This could not have been better 
prepared for the uses of the enemy if the latter had had un- 
limited means and time at his disposal and had done the 


work himself. In a short time it was to be thoroughly demon- 
strated how mistaken were Witte's expenditures and energy 
in neglecting the defenses and building the one thing that 
the enemy would most need in a campaign against Port 
Arthur. Due to this policy, as stated above, he was soon to 
lose both Dalni and the fortress and with them the hopes of 
Russia in the Pacific. 

In treating the general problem in the early days it may 
be observed that there were no well defined ideals in the prem- 
ises and lack of the same may be accepted as their first serious 
deficiency. A writer on the subject of efficiency asserts that 
the first law thereof is that one must have clear and well 
defined ideals in reference to the matter in question and the 
results in this particular case amply justify his statement. 

Again it appears that when the fortress was occupied 
lack of definite ideals as to the functions and true roles of the 
fortress and the fleet existed, and that each branch of these 
two services were not in many cases agreed amongst them- 
selves as to the proper procedure. Here then for the second 
time we find a lack of unity of purpose and national team 
work which in the end defeated the purpose of both services 
and struck down the ambition of the nation, notwithstanding 
the fact that the defense of the fortress was made by one of 
the bravest and most self-sacrificing garrisons that ever strove 
to maintain the dignity and honor of a country. 

From the foregoing we see that there was no close and 
systematic co-operation of a military, naval, and national 
character, so essential to success, and no general team work 
in the development and construction of the fortress so that 
when the war came there was much pulling and hauling in 
different ways and the whole enterprise ended in disaster. 


Several boards and commissions were sent to Port Arthur 
to report upon the general features of the defense. All of 
these were composed of competent officers who, after careful 
reconnaissance and study on the ground, reported upon a 
project, outlined a plan, and estimated the cost thereof. 

The configuration of the Peninsula is such that an effica- 
cious defense must be confined to certain lines and positions 
demanding extensive and elaborate systems of forts and 
trenches. The scheme recommended was taken up and con- 
sidered by the authorites in St. Petersburg, almost wholly 


upon a basis of cost. The main line of the defenses was to 
include Takushan, Wolf Hills, and other points or important 
positions. The cost of the proposed scheme, in the opinion 
of the above mentioned authorities, would be too great and 
it was determined that a cheaper system embodying a shorter 
line nearer to the harbor and naval establishment, should be 
devised. A committee was then organized composed of the 
Secretary of War, General Kuropatkin, and the Ministers of 
State, Finance, etc., who took up the question and sought to 
solve it mechanically, by reducing the cost and number of 
men until they came within their ideas as to the proper ex- 
pense and garrison. The members of this committee were 
not familiar with the fact that effective defense of a position 
is determined by the circumstances of the terrain and the 
probable number of the enemy that can operate against it 
and that the solution can not be accomplished mechanically 
by reducing and trimming or by dividing projects and costs 
into halves or quarters in disregard of fixed natural conditions. 
In this case, as in so many others, those who decided the matter 
did so, not upon its merits, but upon the cost, having no 
conception of the tactical requirements, and by their changes 
placed limitations and conditions on the extent and posi- 
itions of the lines which, in many ways, as appeared later, 
nullified the functions for which the defenses were constructed. 
It was in this as in so many other cases an effort to get some- 
thing valuable and necessary for a reduced price or for nothing, 
and in this, as in all similar ones, the method defeated the 
end to be obtained. The plan accepted would have answered 
the purpose well had there been no war; no fortifications, 
however, would have served the purpose and the demands 
of economy better; but war was expected, it was imminent, 
they were built for war and should have been the best and strongest 
that could be devised. 

In addition to the reduction to avoid excessive cost, 
the appropriations became effective in small amounts and 
were always insufficient. When the war came but a little 
more than one-third of the amount allotted had been available 
for the works, many of which were not completed, and many 
more had not been commenced while the bulk of the armament 
was not in evidence. As usual, the war came sooner than it 
was expected; nothing was ready for the crisis, and in the end 
all was lost. Dalni, ready however, was taken by the Japanese 


without a struggle and was of enormous value to them in 
reducing Port Arthur. 

Colonel Velicho's remarks in reference to solving tactical 
problems mechanically, as in this case, by persons not familiar 
with all the requirements are pertinent and worthy of the 
most careful consideration. 

The Board having settled the question of the plans, 
accepted the same as an accomplished fact and bundled up 
their ideas thereon and laid them away in cold storage for 
some future day. It was not in this, and frequently is not 
in other cases, appreciated that problems of the character 
.here in issue can not be determined by the methods of the 
"bargain counter." 

In estimating the number and power of the guns that 
might be brought against Port Arthur, Colonel Velicho under- 
estimated both. He reckoned upon 144 field guns and 40 
siege guns or about double that which the Japanese had in 
1894. He had completely overlooked the remarkable decade 
in the progress of ordnance and gunnery between 1894 and 
1904, although he can not be blamed entirely for this since 
he was exerting his best endeavors to produce a set of fortifi- 
cations as cheaply as possible. It turned out, however, to 
be a serious question in the premises. He, believing that 
only low power guns would be used, reduced the thickness 
of walls and arches, the heights and thicknesses of the parapets, 
and the dimensions of other structures, thereby effecting 
certain economies. These continued economies show that, 
after having once deviated from standard methods or measures, 
how easy it is later to deviate again and again therefrom in 
order to maintain consistency throughout until the whole 
effort may, to the exclusion of all other considerations, de- 
generate into one of economy pure and simple. The effect 
of these matters upon the results of the siege are well known. 


In 1903 efforts were made to organize a garrison for the 
fortress. This was a delay of more than five years after 
the occupation of the place. There was no hurry about it 
and it was taking its time. The impending war, however, 
came at a swift pace and nothing was ready. Many of the 
troops for the garrison had not yet been designated as troops 
for the fortress and large numbers of those already there had 
been ordered to other places by the Viceroy. He wished to 


send troops to the Yalu before the enemy should arrive there 
and took those that were organized and handy. The troops 
to replace those ordered away did not arrive for several weeks 
after the outbreak of war. 

The interesting items connected with this organization 
are the evident efforts to bring some kind of order out of 
chaos. The Grand Duke Alexieff was made Viceroy. The 
technical troops were organized. The appointment of a 
fortress commander and fortress staff with the fortress organ- 
ization and administration, were all accomplished in time but 
some of them were not ready for use by the opening of the 
war. For contingencies 3,000,000 rubles were provided, and a 
memoir was drawn up in reference to the deficiencies and 
defensive capabilities of the fortress. There was no plan of 
defense of the fortress on hand and no records from which one 
could be made. 

1. A fortress engineer administration was developed after 
the beginning of the war. This office took charge of works 
both on the land and sea fronts. Before this the Commandant 
of the Fortified Zone had no influence over the construction 
of the works since all of the engineers were under the control 
of the Chief Engineer of the District; but after the organization 
of the fortress administration, the Commandant had control 
of the work. 

2. The artillery administration was placed in operation 
at the same time that the other administrations were effected. 
It took charge of guns, ammunition, searchlights, rifles and 

3. The commissariat administration had been organized 
for some time but took up active duties only after the Intendant 
of the District left for Harbin on the 16th of February. 

4. The medical administration was never fully organized. 
Had it been properly organized with a suitable head, much 
suffering would have been obviated during the siege. 

During all of this formative period the constant changing 
around of the garrison caused much confusion. The tele- 
graph and sapper companies were sent away and companies 
to replace them though badly needed did not arrive till the 
first or second week in April. The delay in arrival of the 
telegraph company prevented the erection of proper telegraph 
and telephone lines, and necessitated erecting the same in a 
great hurry, and in a temporary manner upon poles or in 


shallow trenches which was the cause of serious trouble during 
the siege. The lines were constantly cut and interrupted by 
shells and could not be maintained in operation on this account. 

The unreasonable and inexplicable shifting of officers and 
troops at this critical time, from a place where they were 
thoroughly acquainted with the conditions to another place, 
or places, and the introduction of others ignorant of the place, 
had a marked influence upon the efficiency of the command, 
and had an important bearing upon the final act which took 
place on January 2, 1905. These movements were entirely 
useless and an excellent illustration of the danger of "swapping 
horses in the middle of a stream." 

On February 6, 1904, the Viceroy received full discretion- 
ary powers as to declaring a state of war in his district, in the 
fortress, and to ordering mobilization. On the 9th of the 
same month he acted upon the authority thus received. 

It was known to the Viceroy and his immediate staff 
that diplomatic relations with Japan had been broken on 
February 6th at 4 p. m., St. Petersburg time, but he did not 
so inform his commanders until the morning after the attack 
on the fleet. Had he promptly informed the Chief of the 
Fleet on receiving that information the fleet would probably 
have been saved. The torpedoboats that were nightly 
cruising in front of the harbor had detected the Japanese 
boats and had come in to report and were in the act of doing 
so when the hostile boats discharged their torpedoes. These 
boats were reporting because they knew nothing of the rupture 
of diplomatic relations, had no orders to attack and there 
was nothing else for them to do. Had the Chief of the Fleet 
known the state of diplomatic relations, his general careful- 
ness previously displayed with reference to security indicates 
that he would have given effective orders against surprise. 

On the morning of February 9th, orders were given to 
erect more observation stations on the coast and connect the 
same by phone with Port Arthur. Additional methods of 
protecting the channel from attacks were also ordered. 

Kondratenko was detailed to take charge of the land 
defenses. His great energy brought about astounding re- 
sults and Colonel Tretjakow and Captain Von Schwartz 
began to make good headway on the defenses of Kinchou 
but this work had been delayed so long that many believed 
the position could not be prepared for defense in the short 
time available. 


Orders for the defense of the fortress were prepared and 
promulgated. These referred chiefly to: cover, observation of 
coasts and details therewith, fortification of Kinchou, detail 
of a rear admiral on the staff of the military commander, 
vessels to be on duty at entrance to the harbor, co-operation 
of the shore batteries, removal of guns from the Angara and 
placing other ship guns on shore, placing guns to defend 
Pigeon Bay, various police regulations referring to the town, 
and planting mines in Kerr and Talienwan Bays. 

The Fleet 

Admiral Makaroff arrived on March 8th, and took charge 
of the fleet where his presence had an immediate effect. Im- 
provement was so marked that within a week a Japanese 
naval officer had noted and commented upon it. It is believed 
that had he lived through the campaign that the fleet would 
have accomplished important results. He appeared to have 
the true role of the fleet in mind and took hold of the same 
without hesitation or fear of responsibility, and in a manner 
in marked contrast to his successors who were afraid to make 
even the simplest movements. 

Until the railway to the north was interrupted, the 
fortress was annoyed by requests of various kinds from the 
field armies. Supplies and provisions were called for. When 
Smirnoff arrived, he, as Commandant of the Fortress, issued 
orders forbidding sending away supplies and endeavored to 
hold those on hand and increase the stock and this policy was 
the cause of one of the first differences between himself and 
Stoessel. The northern armies regarded Port Arthur as a 
base from which supplies could be drawn. 

These facts are presented to show that those in authority 
had no conception of the real problems and conditions they 
were about to face. The status of the real function of the 
fortress in the coming struggle was not taken into account, as 
the most important element in affording a refuge for the fleet, 
and through the same gaining, in the end, naval supremacy 
which would dominate the situation. With this idea in mind 
the fortress should have been filled up with all kinds of supplies 
required for a long and serious siege; on the other hand, the 
policy was to drain it of the few supplies that happened to 
be in the place when it was first blockaded from the sea. 
Stoessel and his administration had done nothing to supply 


the place and he endeavored to prevent Smirnoff from saving 
what was on hand. 

Deficiency in Supplies 

This is probably the most remarkable of all the numerous 
neglects that occurred in connection with the place. That no 
one up to the arrival of Smirnoff, March 17, should have 
looked after the supplies, especially the food for a long period, 
is more than remarkable, and it would seem that some one 
either inside or outside the fortress would have pierced the 
veil of uncertainty which appeared to hang over the fortress 
in the early days of the war and would have tried to provide 
the place with the necessities of life. That the place would 
be besieged was certain from the start, that the authorities in 
general did not appreciate this or what it would mean is like- 
wise certain. The records which touch upon the subject at 
all indicate that Smirnoff did try to remedy the deficiency, 
and certainly tried to retain what was on hand but was thwarted 
by Stoessel. Smirnoff's efforts came too late since all avail- 
able food supplies had already been seized by the northern 
armies, or had been taken to the north by the natives who 
were clever enough to foresee what was coming. Several 
weeks later, about the time of the battle of Kinchou, Stoessel 
made some small effort to collect supplies by directing that 
stock should be driven into the fortress. 

It is related that the fortress Intendant service did at- 
tempt to purchase cattle in Manchuria but met with in- 
different success. According to statistics there was abundant 
stock there and it is believed that with a little energy and 
system, and with a suitable means of bringing the stock to 
the fortress, with officers to superintend the work and money 
to pay with, substantial results could have been accomplished. 
The omissions herein mentioned are like so many other omis- 
sions that perhaps one must not express too much surprise. 

Another interesting fact bearing on the same question is 
that the entrance to the harbor was never wholly closed. 
In the opinion of a highly competent observer in the town and 
fortress for several months during the siege, nine boats out 
of ten would have succeeded in running in prior to the 26th 
of May, two out of three from that date to the 26th of July 
and one out of ten after that date. Here was an opportunity 
to secure supplies that was ignored in the early months and 
only used spasmodically towards the end and without any plan 


whatever. There was no systematic co-operation with per- 
sons on the outside. 

As Stoessel did not at any time make any real efforts to 
improve the situation and as he constantly complained of the 
serious shortage of supplies, it looks as though he did not 
wish to replenish the same and thus deprive himself of his 
main argument used later for capitulation. 

Surplus Staffs 

One of the serious defects in the administration of the 
fortress, particularly during the early days, was the over 
supply of staffs and higher commanding officers. During this 
time there were the Viceroy, the Commander of the Troops; 
General Wolkow; General Stoessel, the Fortress Commander; 
the Staffs of the Viceroy, of the District, of the Fortress, to 
which must be added the Chief of the Squadron, the Harbor 
Commandant, and the Navy Staff of the Viceroy. From all 
sides the troops received orders and directions often in flat 
contradiction to one another. Thus it may be seen that the 
over-head restrictions were very complex, and the operation 
of the system was impossible from the standpoint of efficiency. 
The effect of this cumbersome system is clearly shown during 
the siege. 


A meeting of the Fortress Commander and three admirals 
was held for the purpose of bringing about co-operation be- 
tween the military and naval departments. The result of 
this meeting was that three detachments from the ships were 
to go ashore each evening, and under the direction of the 
Fortress Commandant to guard certain places of iniportance 
and return to their ships in the morning. Two 47-mm. guns 
were also taken from the fleet and located on shore. 

Smirnoff arrived at Port Arthur on March 17, 1904. He 
had been appointed by order of superior headquarters, to be 
the new Fortress Commandant and was to relieve Stoessel 
who had been appointed to command the 3rd Siberian Army 
Corps. On March 23rd an order from superior headquarters 
was received, directing Lieutenant-General Stoessel to: 

Assume the direction of the defense of the Fortified Zone of Port Arthur- 
Kinchou, having under your direction the Commandant of Port Arthur 
and all the troops in the above mentioned zone. 


The Viceroy was authorized to arrange the details of 
service of the different commands. He telegraphed his own 
orders thereon to Stoessel from Mukden. 

Your Excellency will take over the control of the land defense of the 
Fortified Zone of the Kwangtung by virtue of which the Commandant of 
the Fortress is put under your orders. By virtue of the supreme authority 
given me I entrust you with the rights of Commanding General of an In- 
dependent Army Corps, under full control of the Commander in Chief 
of the Manchurian Army. To the Commandant of the Fortress I give the 
authority of a Commanding General not Independent. In so far as I give 
you instructions, I ask that, in defense of the command entrusted to you, 
you will arrive at some understanding with the Chief of the Fleet. 

These orders are of the highest importance in the history 
of Port Arthur and after obtaining a clear view of the situation, 
should be read with care; for, in regard to the question of 
command, the authorities met with an unusual amount of 
trouble due in a great measure to the complicated system in 
use and this order did not help to simplify the situation. 
The authorities seemed to be groping around without any 
well defined purpose in the provisions which pertained to the 
fortress and the different parts never ran smoothly together. 
Each effort to improve matters made them worse. The 
orders issued to Stoessel and affecting the Commandant were 
in violation of the Russian Regulations for the Guidance of 
Commandants of Fortresses and the Orders for the Administra- 
tion of a Fortress, and trouble ahead should have been antici- 
pated by the one taking the responsibility of providing a new 
system for the command and administration of the fortress, 
without revoking the old system up to that time in vogue. 

Conflict of Authority 

Hardly a month after the date of the above orders, mis- 
understandings arose betw^een Stoessel and Smirnoff as to the 
administration of the place. The Viceroy's orders had vio- 
lated the Orders for the Administration of a Fortress and had 
curtailed the rights and duties of the Commandant thereof, 
but nothing had been provided as to the changes and restric- 
tions that had been imposed, leaving the Commandant with- 
out any guide and subject to the whim of the higher commander. 
This lack of definition of the sphere of duties and usefulness 
of the officers seriously interfered with the daily operations of 
the fortress, since the Commandant did not know wherein 
his rights began and left off and the various staffs were 


constantly in doubt as to their respective jurisdictions. With 
this source of friction the bad feehng and the resulting dis- 
agreements became more and more aggravated with time and 
deeply affected the direction and results of the siege. 

On April the 27th the Viceroy issued an order, The Or- 
ganization and Regulations of the Forces in the Fortress of Port 
Arthur. The title of this order sounds forceful and business- 
like but was of no value in the premises. It prescribes 
duties and responsibilites of the Fortress Commandant, more 
or less unimportant, and leaves the substance of the issue 
just where it was before or worse. The vital principles of 
command had not been touched; Stoessel's name had not been 
mentioned and he interpreted the new order as not affecting 
him in any way, and not applicable to him. He held that his 
duties were not affected by the order and that he, as senior, 
commanded the whole and that power given to the junior 
must come also entirely to the senior. Hence the Viceroy's 
efforts to smooth down the way to general harmony only 
added additional questions to the controversy, and the con- 
dition dependent on the same went from bad to worse. 

An officer placed in high command with its accompanying 
responsibilities is entitled to clear and definite decisions as to 
his authority and duties. A supreme commander who knows 
what is required, can, if so disposed, state his orders and in- 
structions in such language that no room for doubt or argu- 
ment will remain as to his desires and intentions. If, on the 
other hand, he wishes to dodge responsibility for what may 
follow, he may word his orders so as to leave opportunities 
for "interpretation" and loop holes for his own escape. Am- 
biguous or indefinite instructions, are, as a rule, the agencies 
of weak men who have not formed clear ideas of a situation 
or who wish to avoid the obligations that will follow the 
execution of any definite policy, and who will shy, even at the 
ghosts of responsibility should the same happen to haunt 
them. It is not the purpose here to try to determine what 
kind of a man the Viceroy was in this respect, but in prepar- 
ing his order he either did not understand the issue, or dodged 
it and took a by-path around it. Indefinite instructions 
pleased Stoessel since he was enabled thereby to encroach 
gradually upon the domain designated by the appointing 
power for the Fortress Commandant and, as the former grew 
stronger in power, he was able to ignore the other and control 
the situation. 


Unity of Command 

Soon after his arrival in Port Arthur, Vice-Admiral 
Makaroff had sent a report to the Viceroy in which he at- 
tempted to show that, in a maritime fortress, unity of command 
was absolutely necessary, and at the same time asked that the 
Fortress Commandant be placed under the control of the 
Chief of the Fleet and be required to carry out all of his in- 
structions. The Viceroy had already arranged to carry out 
this proposal, but before issuing the order telegraphed to 
General Kuropatkin for his opinion on the question. Makaroff 
further stated : 

That to avoid double command the subordination of the Fortress 
Commander to the Chief of the Manchurian Army would have to be given 
up. The connection between the army and the Fortified Zone was already 

General Kuropatkin, referring directly to the Orders for 
the Administration of a Fortress, stated that the rights and 
duties of the commandant of a fortress are laid down therein; 
that these were adopted by the Highest Authority in 1901; 
and that at the first trial of the same, he saw no reasons for 
changing them again. He further states his opinion that it is 
inadvisable to turn over the fortress to General Smirnoff who 
has no knowledge of the troops or the theater of war and who 
has not had any experience in war or in authority, and says: 

As the Commandant of the Fortress and the Fortified Zone, up to the 
isthmus of Kinchou, General Stoessel is named, and subordinate to him will 
remain all power and means of the defense of the land. 

As a result of this difference of opinion between the 
Viceroy and General Kuropatkin, already detailed to com- 
mand the army in Manchuria, the question as to command 
was laid before the highest authority, and the result was the 
receipt of the telegram of March 23rd already mentioned, 
which placed Stoessel in command of both the fortress and 
the fortified zone. 

This whole discussion brings up an extremely important 
subject which has long been discussed but has not been set- 
tled. Unity of command would have been highly desirable 
and advantageous. Had Admiral Makaroff been placed in 
supreme command and had he lived, judging from his energetic 
character, it is believed that a much better showing would 
have been placed to the credit of Port Arthur. In estab- 
lishing unity of command, the selection of the supreme com- 


mander who is to unite and govern all parties and reconcile 
different interests should hold precedence over all other 
questions. History shows that but a small percentage of 
fortresses have presented satisfactory results when besieged, 
and that in all cases where one has been unusually brilliant, 
the commanding ofTicer has been a remarkably intelligent, 
able, and energetic man. The selection of the right man for 
the job is therefore the most important element to reckon 
with. Had such a man as Todleben or Denfert been in com- 
mand. Port Arthur would never have capitulated. As to 
Admiral Makaroff, one can only judge by his action during 
the few weeks he was in charge of the fleet. He would have 
been absent with his fleet at times and could not have com- 
manded in fact. This in the existing circumstances would have 
been prejudicial to the best results. Kondratenko would, 
so far as can be judged from his character, have been an ideal 
man for commandant of the fortress. 

High Explosive Shells 

The supply of projectiles for so many guns was a serious 
question. Request for high-explosive armor-piercing shells 
had been sent forward and the reply came back that there 
were none on hand. Admiral Makaroff had in the meantime 
lent a supply to the coast batteries and had reported his 
action to St. Petersburg. In answer to his report, came the 
following information. 

Armor shells for 25-cm. guns are not to be loaded with high-explosives. 
There is no means of loading them that does not cause decrease in penetra- 

The maximum range for this kind of shell may be taken at 3.2 kilo- 
meters and firing beyond that range is useless with this ammunition. 

Firing at a moving fleet at more than 10 kilometers is not worth while 
on account of the expenditure of ammunition and the wear on the guns. 

This message caused the assembling of a special board 
consisting of Admiral Makaroff, General Stoessel, General 
Smirnoff, General Bjely (Chief of Artillery) and Grand Duke 
Cyril Vladimirowitsch. They prepared a collective telegram 
which was sent to the Head of the Navy Department. It 
stated that in the opinion of the individuals signing: 

The Artillery Headquarters had not gone into the question of use 
of projectiles with sufficient detail, otherwise their recommendations not 
to reply to the hostile fire would not have been made and the board con- 
sidered that the shells requested were absolutely necessary for the coast 
guns and, in spite of the theoretical deductions of Artillery Headquarters, 


requested that the shells be supplied and fired at ranges compatible with 
the ballistic properties of the gun. 

This ended the matter. The shells were not sent and the 
ships lent their own to the coast batteries. 

Here we find five responsible officers of the highest rank 
begging for the proper kind of shells and Artillery Head- 
quarters, several thousand miles away, sending instead theoret- 
ical considerations. 

The size and number of the docks were found deficient 
and the ships and boats had to be repaired in the harbor 
without docking. There further existed deficiencies of material 
and machinery so that important repairs could not be made. 

Ships' Guns Placed in Land Defenses 

On April 15 the Viceroy ordered that 188 guns be 
removed from the fleet and mounted on shore with a 
supply of ammunition for same. This order caused some 
excitement on board. It surely appears to have been poor 
economy to build powerful ships just for the purpose of con- 
veying a few guns to this fortress where the guns of the ships 
were to be used solely for land defense, and in protecting a 
refuge for the fleet. For this reason many of the ships were 
deficient in the smaller caliber guns on going out to battle 
on various occasions. This whole procedure indicates again a 
lack of definite ideals in reference the proper functions and 
role of the fleet in the existing premises. The policy of the 
makeshifts resorted to at Port Arthur — if it may be called 
a policy — indicates lack of any definite plan and became a 
hit or miss method of robbing one department to pay another. 

Landing at Pitsewo 

On May 5th the Japanese commenced their landing at 
Pitsewo. On this day about 10,000 men were landed when 
the operation was interrupted by a typhoon. The whole 
defense at and around Kinchou and to the rear up to the 
time of the close investment of the fortress, is simply a splendid 
illustration of "how not to do it." It would be useless to 
give details here. They are to be found amply explained in 
the report of the Russian General Staff. The fiasco at Kinchou 
and the evacuation of Huinshan by Fock's Division and his 
orders to return next morning to the same after receiving a 
suggestion to return thereto from Stoessel; the return of 
Fock's command to the position before the Japanese had 


discovered his absence; and the fact that the position was 
actually held for one month from that date are enough to 
characterize the whole as a campaign "incredible." 

It would be unfair to any system of command and ad- 
ministration to judge it by the execution of movements in 
this campaign. No system could bear up under it. 

Guns at Kinchou 

General Kuropatkin in a letter to Stoessel speaks of the 
guns mounted at Kinchou and recommends dismounting 
them before the enemy might have a chance to capture them, 
and removing same to Port Arthur by train. In this sug- 
gestion he appears to have very hazy ideas of the conditions 
there. They would be of no use unless used in the critical 
stages of the attack; if removed before this, they would not 
be of use in the defense and, if thus used therein, it would 
then have been impossible to save them in case of defeat. 

Army and Navy Co-operation 

On one occasion of many where the co-operation of the 
fleet was requested, General Stoessel made a special request 
for its assistance, and finally Admiral Vitgeft agreed to send 
out some gunboats. A little later General Stoessel insisted 
that the fleet should put to sea. Good reasons were presented 
by the Admiral for remaining within the harbor. Here we 
have the case of a fleet commander who constantly presents 
reasons for not taking the sea; and a general commanding the 
fortress, who knew nothing about the subject, constantly 
insisting that the fleet should go out. The result was a 
deadlock that was not easily broken. The Admiral and 
senior naval officers held that to leave the harbor would sub- 
ject the fortress to grave danger of attack from the sea, while 
the Commandant felt that the presence of the fleet was sub- 
jecting the fortress to grave dangers from attack by land. 
There was a meeting of the high commanders of army and 
navy and all expressed their opinions freely as to the duty of 
the fleet under the circumstances. Naval officers thought 
it would be dangerous to go out and leave the harbor while 
army officers thought the fleet should go to sea and play its 
part in the struggle and assist in the broad general campaign, 
the success of which depended upon Russian supremacy on 
the sea. From this discussion it would appear that the 
army officers had more clearly defined ideas of the true role 


of the navy than did the officers thereof who were determined 
to remain in port. 

Stoessel finally took up the matter with higher authority. 
He was determined to shift from his shoulders what he con- 
sidered his responsibility in the matter. He held the view 
that the fleet's departure from the place would reduce the 
necessity for holding the fortress to the bitter end and was 
shaping all things for an early surrender. He received an 
answer to his question from the Viceroy in a short time in 
which he was directed to maintain an energetic defense of the 
fortress to the last; to maintain it as a refuge for the fleet; 
he was informed that the fleet was wholly under the command 
of the Chief of the Fleet and would go out only in accordance 
with the latter's judgment and that under no circumstances 
was the fleet to be sacrificed to secure the safety of the fortress. 
These words are most definite and show a clearer insight into 
the reasons for the being of the fleet and its purpose than any- 
thing formulated up to this time. 

Stoessel Relieved from Command 

Two telegrams arrived from General Kuropatkin for 
General Stoessel. The first was an answer to one from Stoessel 
in which he had been worrying about not getting reinforce- 
ments and about the relief of the fortress. The second was 
an answer to the numerous reports of the battle of Kinchou 
and the conditions existing afterwards. In these he had in 
a maudlin way begged for immediate and strong reinforce- 
ments — at least three divisions and a cavalry division — and 
continued to lament over the failure to relieve the place and 
was anxious to know when it would take place. Kuropatkin 
in his answer, gave Stoessel some comparative facts as to the 
strength of his and the opposing forces; showed him that he 
had nearly as many men as the enemy and the advantage of 
strong fortifications; explained the uselessness of trying to 
relieve the place before sufficient forces had been«<ioncentrated 
to accomplish the purpose with certainty; and finished with 
some good advice as to the subject of not becoming down 
hearted and ready to quit before he had fulfilled certain 
obHgations, etc., as to resistance and injury to the enemy and 
exhaustion of his own supplies. In answering this rebuke 
Stoessel became very meek and claimed that his intentions 
had all been misunderstood. 

The exaggerated and in fact untrue account of the 


Kinchou affair in Stoessel's reports had caused many doubts 
in Kuropatkin's mind as to the advisability of leaving. Stoessel 
longer in command at Port Arthur. These doubts were 
further enhanced by reports made to him by two general staff 
officers who had come to army headquarters from Port Arthur. 
Vitgeft had been requested to forward his estimate of 
Stoessel and the situation at Port Arthur. He replied as 
f ollows : 

According to my conscience I have reached the conclusion that General 
Stoessel does not entertain strong reliance in the means at his disposal. 
He changes his conclusions and his attitude very quickly, being influenced 
by circumstances and personalities just then about him. His authority 
depends only on his rank. His entire hope for saving Port Arthur is wrapped 
in the departure of the fleet. For a personal command in the field he is 
suitable, but not for a fortress. 

However much one may differ from Vitgeft' s estimate of 
Stoessel as to his suitability for command in the field, the 
accuracy of his estimate in reference to the fortress must be 
admitted. The Viceroy was in accord with General Kuropat- 
kin as to the advisability of removing Stoessel but wished to 
have Vitgeft's opinion and when that arrived the former 
forwarded to the Czar a letter dated June 23rd, in the follow- 
ing words recommending his removal: 

It is to be regretted exceedingly that General Stoessel has not justified 
the hope placed in him. He, personally, has lost confidence in a successful 
defense of the fortress, also has caused this trust to waver in his subordinates, 
and has further expressed his doubts to the Viceroy as to the possibility of 
successfully defending Port Arthur stubbornly with its garrison. General 
Stoessel has sent reports direct in which he states that the number of pro- 
jectiles in the fortress is very limited and further understated the supply 
of same in the fortress. The result of these reports, which were given 
credence, was the cause of the march southward of Stackelburg's detach- 
ment without sufficient preparation being made. 

On June 16th Captain Odintzow was sent by Stoessel 
with penitent explanations showing an abject state of mind 
and practically retracting what he had said about conditions 
in the fortress. Kuropatkin then saw that no dependence 
could be placed in Stoessel's reports and that most decidedly 
he was not fit for the command. Kuropatkin then sent him 
the telegram, with a copy for Smirnoff, notifying him that 
inasmuch as his work in connection with the fortified zone 
was finished there was no longer any need of his remaining, 
and directing him to leave the place and join the army in 
Manchuria. The two telegrams came to Stoessel on June the 


18th and Stoessel directed his staff to consider these telegrams 
as not. received and remain silent concerning them. Smirnoff 
knew nothing of either of them. The latter learned of the 
circumstances from Kuropatkin after returning from Japan 
where he had gone as a prisoner of war. 

Stoessel did not acknowledge receipt of the telegrams and 
it was only when a second one came and a written order to 
the same effect dated July 2nd that an answer was sent in 
which the positive necessity for his remaining in Port Arthur 
was presented, owing to the conditions there and the great 
difTiculty of getting away was made an excuse for not comply- 
ing, finishing with the remark that if after these reasons have 
been considered and it was still desirable that he should 
leave he would consider it his duty to obey the order. 

Stoessel Forbids Sorties 

After the investment of the fortress the next five months 
were active ones for the garrison. The friction already 
existing between Stoessel and Smirnoff continued to increase 
and incompetency and insubordination were always in evi- 
dence. Fock's secret letter or report to Stoessel as to the 
uselessness of sorties, and referring especially to that of the 
night of August 29-30, undertaken to recapture the east 
Panlung fort caused much bad feeling. The effort had failed 
and Fock in this secret report characterized this and similar 
efforts as useless and injurious to the morale of the command. 
The General Staff in commenting on this effort speaks of the 
recapture of the place owing to the nearness of the same to 
other works as a matter of extreme necessity. Upon receipt 
of the secret letter Stoessel issued an order forbidding such 
sorties without his personal permission. Fock was directly 
under Smirnoff but there was no way at that time to discipline 
Fock, and later he did several other acts equally bad or worse 
which were encouraged by Stoessel. On August 30th, in 
view of the decisive repulse of the first general attack of the 
Japanese which Stoessel had reported to the Czar he was 
notified that he had been appointed aid to the latter. After 
this it was believed that Stoessel was vested with additional 
authority and he became more arbitrary than ever. Whether 
it was correct or not it was generally believed that the special 
favor conferred by the Czar authorized him to speak directly 
in the latter' s name and this impression had injurious effects 
upon the personnel of the command. 


Stoessel Reports Scarcity of Artillery Ammunition 

On September 23rd Stoessel made a report to the higher 
authorities and to the Czar in which he said: 

Ammunition I have not received, the saving of projectiles whose supply 
is becoming less, robs us of the opportunity to combat with success the 
artillery of the enemy, and to cau^e his assaulting columns heavy losses. 
The troops fought heroically. All, to the last man, are impelled by a 
strong will to hold Russia's bulwark in the Far East to the last drop of 
blood. The near exhaustion of the ammunition supply, however, threatens 
to make all of the exertions of the defenders in vain. 

On September 30th he again reports progress of events 
and finishes with the statement: 

The ammunition asked for on September 20, has not been received. 

Just how, or by what route he expected this ammunition 
to reach him in this time is not stated. This constant harping 
on the deficient supply of ammunition was evidently intended 
to prepare all minds for the coming collapse of the defense 
when it could be made to appear that the ammunition was 
exhausted. The skilfull way in which he always presented 
the weaknesses of the defense and the exhaustion of supplies 
is worthy of special study. Stoessel and Fock both had a 
mania for placing large charges of explosives under works 
and preparing to blow them up as was mentioned in reference 
to the works at Kinchou. On October 29th a Council of 
Defense was called to consider the state of Forts Nos. II and 
III. Fock believed that these forts would soon be taken by 
assault and urged the necessity of preparing to blow them up. 
Stoessel directed the Commandant to prepare for this and 
further added to those. Intermediate Work No. 3 and Kurgan 
Battery, all of which were to be blown up as soon as the 
enemy should enter them. The work was partly executed 
on Fort No. II but was postponed at request of the Fort 
Commandant for fear that the troops holding the place might 
themselves be shaken thereby and confidence lost. 

On December 22nd, in a report to Kuropatkin Stoessel 

My situation here is difficult, the supply of ammunition is exhausted, 
only a small portion of the men are healthy, the number of defenders is 
less each day. The 28-cm. shells destroy everything, on the forts as well 
as in the fortress. Up to this time no reinforcements have come and we 
are besieged in the eleventh month; I have no reports from you. I know 
not where the army may be. I ask again for speedy help and I repeat 
again the situation is serious. 


It is not clear what he expected to gain by this and in 
fact it looks as though he did not expect anything. Admitting 
the truth of all of his statements except that referring to 
ammunition which was not true, nothing was to be gained by 
this kind of pleading. He suggests nothing, puts up a despair- 
ing and unmanly plaint and rings in the question of ammuni- 
tion once more as a kind of dying statement; the shadows of 
the coming event are cast before as a kind of warning to the 

Preparations for Capitulation 

After the fall of 203 Meter Hill and the destruction of the 
fleet, commencing on December the 6th events moved rapidly. 
Kondratenko was killed on the 15th. Fort No. H was evacu- 
ated by Fock on the 18th, No. HI was blown up and taken on 
the 28th, and Intermediate Work No. 3 was captured on the 
31st. Evacuations and surrender had gone on like clock- 
work after the death of Kondratenko and although Fock had 
to threaten at times to use force to compel the abandonment 
of some of the works as Battery B, and although he had other 
difficulties in reducing the 1st defensive line to an indefensible 
state, on the whole it may be said that he was having great 
success in carrying out his and Stoessel's purpose to sur- 
render. The details of all the indications that justify this 
conclusion are too numerous to present here but the main 
facts have been selected from the report of the Russian General 
Staff and presented in the body of these notes, and have 
almost in every detail been confirmed by independent reliable 

On the 29th Stoessel requested the Commandant, Smir- 
noff, to convene the Council. Discussion therein showed that 
Stoessel desired the meeting for the main purpose of con- 
sidering a proposal to surrender. Other matters were dis- 
cussed but this was the principal reason for the meeting. 
The Council in a proportion of more than 2 to 1 decided that 
any such proposal or discussion thereof was premature and 
this decision appeared to be mainly due to the speech and 
influence of Smirnoff, who was determined that the fortress 
should be held to the last. The Council adjourned, Stoessel 
apparently acquiescing in the decision. On the third day there- 
after, and after Fock had successfully reduced the defenses to 
such a state that a number of the important lines were unten- 
able, Stoessel sent to General Nogi his undated proposal for 


capitulation, without notifying any one except members of his 
Staff and General Fock. News of the proposal came to General 
Smirnoff by accident and in the same manner to many others 
in high command. 

The highest tribunal which in case of surrender of a fort- 
ress had jurisdiction found the supreme commander respon- 
sible and guilty of the decision to capitulate and of capitu- 
lation; but nevertheless in its findings said at the same time: 

That never in the history of all times was there such stubbornness 
of defense as was shown by the command of General Stoessel, besieged by 
land and sea by superior forces, and that the whole world was astonished 
by the heroism. 

There has never been any question of the heroism of the 
garrison and had the high ofTicers in command, as a whole, 
been able to show the heroic qualities exhibited by the remain- 
der of the garrison, or even half such courage, devotion, and 
patriotism there would have been no court-martial and no 
adverse criticism upon the character of the defense, no dis- 
graceful capitulation and probably a different history for 

This finishes the reference to the operations of the siege. 
There remain but a few comments upon Stoessel and Smirnoff 
for the purpose of establishing the relative integrity and 
credibility of the two men. In the main object for which 
this investigation was taken up it is a matter of some import- 
ance as to which of them stood for the right policy and how 
they affected the strength of the administrative system and 
whether the failure was induced by the characters involved 
or by the defects inherent in the system. 


General Stoessel was 56 years old at the beginning of the 
war, and in reference to experience and command should 
have been in the prime of life. He had been in the district 
of the Kwangtung for several years and should have known 
the country well. He used to state at times, apparently in 
contempt of the subject, that he knew nothing of fortifications 
and such warfare, that he was a "fighting infantry general" 
and it might be inferred that he preferred that kind of duty. 
It is presumed that he had some kind of a previous record in 
his profession, possibly made in the Turco-Russion war but 
no accurate statement to that effect could be found. What- 
ever he may have been before the siege of Port Arthur, he 


did nothing there to indicate that he had any special fighting 
qualities. In 1903 he was at Port Arthur in command of the 
3rd East Siberian Rifle Division, when he was appointed Com- 
mandant of the Fortress that was being organized there. On 
the day after the night attack upon Port Arthur and the 
fleet, February 9th, the Viceroy and he had a session. What 
was said there is not known but the former must have decided 
to relieve him; for an order was issued February 15th from 
supreme headquarters relieving him of the command of the 
fortress and assigning him to the command of the 3rd Siber- 
ian Army Corps. He was to be succeeded by Lieutenant- 
General Smirnoff, who started from Warsaw for his new station 
on February 25th, 1904. Stoessel did not leave at once and 
on March the 23rd he was appointed to command the Forti- 
fied Zone of the Kwangtung, and Smirnoff, as Commandant 
of the Fortress, was placed under his authority. 

General Kuropatkin appears to have favored Stoessel 
since he expressed his opinion strongly against turning over the 
fortress to Smirnoff without restrictions and through his 
influence and recommendations was instrumental in placing 
Smirnoff in a subordinate position. The Viceroy evidently 
intended to give Smirnoff independent command. 

Later when Stoessel's unreasonable gloomy and false 
reports were received concerning conditions at Port Arthur 
after the affair at Kinchou, Kuropatkin changed his mind 
and decided to recall him from Command of the Fortified 
Zone which was at that time practically reduced to Port 

Whether Kuropatkin changed his mind or other events 
made him refrain from further efforts to get him out of Port 
Arthur is not known but nothing further was ever done in the 
matter and Stoessel remained and continued in command of 
the place. As no higher authority ever took up the matter 
and as Stoessel had stated the case for future consideration it 
may be taken as equivalent to a revocation of the orders 
relieving Stoessel. All higher authority knew of the situation 
and acquiesced in the same. Stoessel, therefore, remained 
Commandant of the Fortress with Smirnoff subordinate to 
him. After Kuropatkin's previous experience with Stoessel's 
exaggeration and untruthfulness it seems impossible that he 
could have accepted Stoessel's letter at its face value and de- 
cided that it would be best to leave him there. 

After the first general attack upon the fortress and the 


decisive repulse Stoessel lost no time in informing the higher 
authorities of the same and, as previously stated, he at once 
received an appointment as aid to the Czar. This had a 
great moral efTect on the garrison and may have effected 
Kuropatkin's action in reference to the orders relieving Stoessel. 
Further, Stoessel appears to have had influence somewhere at 
court and appears to have been on some kind of close relations 
with the royal family. His success in evading field service 
and his ability to remain in the fortress in spite of all the efforts 
of those in authority to remove him shows some occult agency 
working for him. 

When he left the fortress he accepted parole and went to 
Russia instead of going with his troops to Japan as a prisoner 
of war. When asked by the Roop Commission of Inquiry 
why he took from the fortress thirty-eight cart loads of his 
private property in violation of military regulations, he 
answered that he did so by permission of the Emperor of 
Japan. When asked by the same commission why he did 
not go to Japan as a prisoner of war, he answered because 
he was ordered not to do so by her Imperial Highness the 
Tsarina. This was based on the fact that she had sent him 
a telegram saying that she would be glad to see him in Russia. 
He was a gruff man apparently without tact or ability for 
which he tried to make up by long winded bombastic speeches, 
blustering treatment of his inferiors, and protestations to the 
effect that they would "fight to the last man," "to the last 
drop of blood," and similar expressions. He was a blusterer, 
and a swashbuckler of the first order. 

Smirnoff had a good reputation on arriving at Port 
Arthur. So far as could be learned his reputation, character, 
and ability had never been questioned by any one and all 
indications are that he was a man of high and praiseworthy 
ideals. The only time that any reflection was made upon 
him was when Kuropatkin protested against giving him 
absolute control of the fortress, saying that he was unknown 
to the troops and unacquainted with the theater of war, and 
without experience in war in authority. From this it may be 
assumed that most of his service had been with the staff. 
We find in Cassell's history that he had commanded a regiment 
in the Turco-Russian war and later was Commandant of the 
Warsaw Fortress. These details are not essential, however, 
in the present study which is inquiring more as to the efficiency 


of Smirnoff and Stoessel in the existing premises in which 
both were -star actors and engaged in the same drama. In 
this question is involved the whole subject of command in a 
fortress, and extraction therefrom of the basic principles and 
influences to be used in erecting a new structure to cover 
future cases. 

In the long and bitter controversy Smirnoff appears 
always to have acted upon sound principles. No adverse 
criticism has been made by anyone upon his command; with 
a man constantly interfering in little things, revoking his 
orders on matters within the recognized jurisdiction of the 
Commandant, being ignored and having subordinates ap- 
pointed in defiance of his remonstrance and authority, and 
apparent endeavors to harass him in every way, as did Stoes- 
sel; and finally to see the fortress sacrificed through con- 
spiracy between his immediate superior and his subordinate 
next below him; is it not remarkable that he was able to ac- 
complish anything? His record from a military standpoint 
seems secure. From his first difference with Stoessel about 
permitting supplies and food to be taken from the place, to 
his last protest against the premature capitulation, he appears 
as a man on the right side. 

His efforts to fortify Takushan, and persistence in forti- 
fying 203 Meter Hill and his offensive on many occasions to 
recapture important places like Takushan and the Panlung 
Works, all of which was at first criticised or ridiculed, and 
later forbidden by Stoessel, show that he had at least some 
qualifications for the position he held. His stand before the 
Council of Defense and the Council of War on December 8th 
and 29th against the discussion even of the proposal to sur- 
render, mark him as a patriotic man and the sentiments 
expressed on these occasions are such as to warm the heart 
of every patriotic soldier. Evidently these remarks in each 
case greatly influenced the members of the Council and car- 
ried the majority with him. He went as a prisoner of war 
and remained in Japan until released after the treaty of 
peace was signed. 

The foregoing authorities show Smirnoff, through no 
fault of his own, to have been placed in the most difficult 
and delicate position in which a military man can be placed — 
in one of responsibility without commensurate authority, and 
under an incompetent blustering commander who was doing 
all in his power to neutralize the former's efforts even to the 


revocation of orders issued and destruction of authority over 
his subordinates. When Smirnoff arrived and assumed com- 
mand of Port Arthur it was evidently the intention of the 
appointing power that he should be the Commandant of the 
place, in which capacity he was provided with Orders for the 
Administration of a Fortress and Regulations for the Guidance 
of Commandants of Fortresses. Both of these are special and 
of such character that one not having some knowledge of 
fortifications would be likely to ignore them and reduce all 
questions to the narrow gauge of his own experience. Stoessel 
was that kind of a man, and did not at any time during his 
connection with the place, show any special capacity for 
command. He had strong reasons for suppressing the tele- 
gram and copy thereof sent to Smirnoff and for remaining in 
Port Arthur which now can only be surmised. He evidently 
had prejudices against joining the Manchurian Army. Smirn- 
off found himself, thanks to the juggling of orders, in an 
undefined status which held him responsible for certain re- 
sults but limited his authority in the accomplishment of the 
same. Many orders were published for the purpose of in- 
terpreting and correcting this situation but all of them 
seemed to miss the main point in the case and instead of 
improving, made matters worse than before. As the case 
stood Smirnoff could scarcely be held responsible for anything 
since his status was one not covered by the orders and regu- 
lations governing the normal cases and nothing had been 
prepared for his special guidance. 

In the end Smirnoff was tried for failing to take action 
to prevent the reduction of the fortress to a critical condition, 
when he suspected a compact between Fock and Stoessel to 
reduce the same to such a state that an early capitulation 
would be justified, and this in spite of the responsibility 
resting upon him under Article 57 Regulations for the Guidance 
of Commandants of Fortresses; for not depriving General Fock 
of his command; for not having convened the Council of 
Defense and not insisting on compliance with the above 
mentioned rules; and for not insisting on continuing the 
defense in compliance with the decision of the Council of War. 

Unless these charges were preferred against General 
Smirnoff for the purpose of exonerating him they simply 
amount to word painting. The regulations apply to the 
senior officer of the fortress who is de facto the commanding 
officer of the place. Smirnoff's orders placed him second in 


command and finally Stoessel took over all authority, but 
during the whole time the exact status of Smirnoff was never 
defined. He could not, therefore, except by mutiny and 
force take the responsibility for overturning his superior's 
actions; he could not relieve Fock, who had been appointed 
by Stoessel over his head and in spite of his most urgent 
protest against it; and he could not call the Council to re- 
verse the surrender of the place because Stoessel in defiance 
of its decision to fight on had secretly and by virtue of au- 
thority as senior officer made the proposal to surrender. Just 
how it was expected that Smirnoff should have acted other- 
wise in the circumstances is not explained. It appears to be 
a case where Smirnoff was to be considered commandant 
whenever anything was found to be unsatisfactory but when 
anything required authority he was not to be so considered. 
It was a convenient and plausible theory for those who had 
dodged the main issue in all of this controversy, but it would 
not hold in law. Smirnoff was acquitted. 


The facts brought out above in reference to Port Arthur 
and its command and administration are valuable in showing 
many things to embody in a new system of administration 
and many things to avoid. The practices and policies in this 
system that should be retained and used in a new system are 
rather limited but those of the opposite character are equally 
valuable. The whole system of administration used is em- 
braced in the foregoing with sufficient accuracy to give one 
an excellent idea what it was and how it succeeded. All the 
well established facts can be studied to advantage, and those 
which are found to be good accepted and those found to be 
otherwise rejected. It is fortunate for one studying this 
question and seeking to draw up a new system that this great 
siege took place, for amongst the debris and the after ex- 
planations "of how it all happened" may be found enough 
material, information and basic principles to aid in the de- 
velopment of an efficacious system. 

The struggle for the mastery of Port Arthur was a great 
one and elucidated many principles of fortress and other 
warfare. Neutral nations are fortunate in having the results 
thereof presented to them without having to make the ex- 
periment themselves, leaving thereto only the necessary study 
of the remains and history to secure the value of its teachings. 


The study, however, must be careful and thorough and the 
deductions based upon the actual combat conditions, to the 
exclusion of purely theoretical considerations. It is scarcely 
possible that another example of equal magnitude and value 
will be produced in the present or even the next generation. 
In fact, but few have been provided in all time. Careful 
study should reveal methods and principles that should make 
for reliability and stability in a new system. 

With the Russian orders and regulations for government 
and command of fortresses one would think that questions 
herein raised would not cause trouble in a place like Port 
Arthur; that the different persons responsible for the opera- 
tion of the different elements would fall into their places 
naturally; and that the place would proceed on its mission 
automatically, effectively, and quietly. For such result they 
thought they had prepared themselves, but, on account of 
conditions and situations not normal, vexing questions of 
every description projected themselves into the problem un- 
accompanied by regulation or precedent and persistently 
remained there. In explanation of these facts it appears 
that occult influences must have been at work, ever quiet and 
invisible but none the less active. There was no reason for 
assigning Stoessel over Smirnoff, apparent in the problem, 
thus departing from the general case contemplated by the 
Russian regulations; the special case thus created required 
special regulations and rules which were not forthcoming and 
would have been unsatisfactory had they been provided. It 
was another case of "swapping horses in the middle of the 
stream" without any purpose, unless to favor Stoessel, which 
in view of the stake in issue was wholly unjustifiable. If in 
such cases those directly concerned could take the view that 
the simpler the organization the better will be the administra- 
tion and will act on that axiom, such disasters as that of Port 
Arthur would be prevented. 

Kuropatkin surely must have known something about 
Stoessel when he insisted on having Smirnoff placed under 
him and had he known enough about him to justify such a 
recommendation as he made in his favor he must also have 
known, in a degree, at least his general character and some of 
his disqualifications. In any case Kuropatkin did not appre- 
ciate the question of "command of such a fortress" or he 
would have seen that the combination, which through his 
endeavors was effected, could not be successful. It is possible 



that Kiiropatkin did not grasp the importance that this 
fortress would assume in the war and did not feel that it would 
be necessary to consider the matter very deeply. In any case 
he made a mistake in his selection and recognized the same 
after three months and issued orders to correct it but did not 
insist on compliance therewith and thereby made a second 
mistake more serious than the first— allowing some external 
consideration to interfere with his duty. When he finally 
had adjudged Stoessel as unsuited to the command assigned 
him, it is strange that he should permit any considerations 
other than those relating to military efficiency to influence his 

action. . 

The organization of the executive branches in Port Arthur, 
upon which the administration of the place depended, was 
unnecessarily complex. General Kuropatkin, the Viceroy, 
Stoessel, and the Highest Authorities all issued orders m a 
way which caused confusion and at times uncertainty. The 
Viceroy had certain authority which does not appear m 
definite terms and it is not clear as to what was the line of 
precedence in authority. He also represented both the sea 
and land forces and sought to bring about co-operation between 
the two but his efforts were ineffectual. In the fortress it is 
not clear just how far his authority extended. He was a kind 
of Governor of the Amur District and presumably would have 
the whole district under his command both as to land and 
naval forces but this is by no means clear. The Chief of the 
Manchurian Army also had considerable to say and his au- 
thority appears to have been parallel to that of the Viceroy. 
The scheme of authority seems not to have been well worked 
out and it may be doubted if the authorities had ever thought 
of the necessity for a scheme of authority for such circum- 
stances as suddenly arose at Port Arthur on February 8. 

The numerous and apparently distantly related author- 
ities, giving orders without any well thought out system and 
without consistent team work, constituted one of the most 
serious if not the most serious drawback to success at Port 
Arthur. The situation at Port Arthur belongs to a class of 
problems that are special and require certain special solutions. 
The situation concerning fortresses in war was well stated by 
Smirnoff before the Council of War December 29th. Therein 
he mentioned: (1) Secret regulations should be found at every 
fortress stating the reasons for the existence of the fortress and 
its relation to the theater of war. (2) The duties of the Com- 


mandant in reference to the fortress and the theater of war. (3) 
The Regulations for the Guidance of Commandants of Fortresses 
definitely require fortresses to hold out until all their strength 
and means of defense are exhausted. 

Here are three principles which evidently were not 
appreciated in the case of Port Arthur by any of the high 
commanders except Smirnoff and were probably not known to 
the others. These are basic and should be the ground work 
of all "Regulations for the Guidance of Commandants of 

Von Schwartz who passed through the entire siege and 
was active and energetic in the defense, lays down important 
principles that demand the most careful study and which should 
be introduced into the regulations of every scheme of fortress 
defense. After criticising various efforts by various authors 
to define the length of time that a fortress should hold out 
and analyzing all of them, he states without qualification that 
a fortress should exist only for the purpose of offering a stubborn 
resistance until the end of the war. It requires but little thought 
to show that this is the only conception in the premises 
that offers satisfactory results and should be the first con- 
dition imposed upon the garrison on mobilization, and if the 
same enters a contest with that understanding a natural 
pride in achievement will grow up inside of its walls and the 
determination to effect such an issue will gather increased 
force and momentum as time goes on. All propositions as to 
equipping forts for a certain length of time and ideas or schemes 
for holding out for one, three, or six months, are based on 
erroneous premises and are almost certain to bring with them 
disaster. It may be briefly stated that any limits as to time 
in such cases appeals to the negative side of human endurance 
which was illustrated upon a large scale at Port Arthur. It 
was the main motive throughout all departments of the 
Russian army that Port Arthur should be relieved; it haunted 
them by night and by day, while the garrison within the 
fortress, indulged in reveries of the same by day and dreamed 
thereof by night. The soldiers had been so imbued with this 
idea that when they heard a rumor that the place was to 
capitulate they abandoned their positions, threw away their 
weapons, cast aside all ideas of discipline and began those 
disgraceful scenes which marked the end. After this there 
was no longer a possibility of maintaining the works had the 
rumor proved to be false. This is the reason Smirnoff gives 



for not trying to arrest Stoessel and his followers and con- 
tinuing the defense. It was clearly impossible. Thus the 
idea of being relieved and of quitting after a limited time, 
weakens more and more the heroic qualities in man as time 
goes on and inevitably leads to the scenes enacted at Port 
Arthur or their equivalent in some other form. 

Makaroff, in his discussion as to the unity of command 
of the fortress, touches the heart of that and every similar 
situation. It was clear that "unity of command" in reference 
to the army and navy where they are operating together or 
in the vicinity of each other is desirable, but in the same argu- 
ment and forwarded by the Viceroy, the latter emphasizes the 
fact that: 

To avoid a double command, the subordination of the Fortress Com- 
mandant to the Commander-in-Chief of the Manchurian Army is required 
to be given up. The connection between the army and the fortified zone 
is already very weak. 

In fact the bond between the two was so weak that 
communication was precarious and did more harm than good. 
The fortress would have been better of! had the connection 
been cut much sooner. As the question stood after the first 
few weeks, nothing was accomplished and communication 
with the outside world simply gave outside authorities oppor- 
tunities to interfere in questions and situations which they 
did not and could not understand thereby embarrassing the 


Von Schwartz also touches upon this question. After dis- 
cussing the resistance that should be expected of a fortress 
says that the commandant should be given independent com- 
mand. This appears to be sound doctrine whether judged by 
general reasoning or by concrete cases of Port Arthur and 
other conspicuous examples of sieges. When a place is once 
cut off, and this may be expected at any time, no one outside 
of the place can possibly estimate the situation and give 
appropriate orders; and the sooner this is recognized in the 
struggle of a fortress and becomes its breath of life, the better 
for its operation and success. In case of an interior fortress 
having a well defined mission in the theater of war, it is clearly 
impossible for its commandant to carry out the same if other 
forces are permitted to pass through and other commanders to 
give orders and make demands thereon which it was never 
designed to satisfy, or to give orders affecting the one purpose 
for which the place was constructed. It requires clearly de- 


fined ideals for the establishment and uses of fortresses and 
they should not deviate therefrom for any other purpose 
until their legitimate function has been fulfilled. Therefore 
they should be independent, prepared to close up at any moment 
after the commencement of hostilities, and the garrison filled with 
the spirit that does not expect relief until the end. This re- 
quirement means that a definite policy must be established 
and maintained in reference to fortresses and the supply 
thereof not left to chance and the possibility of completion 
after the opening of hostilities. 

The Russians made two mistakes in the administration 
which might have been avoided even in the unprepared state 
of the fortress: (1) In not selecting a man with suitable quali- 
fications, who understood the mission of the fortress and would 
act accordingly. (2) In not turning over to him full respon- 
sibility for the execution of orders and regulations and the secret 
mission pertaining to the fortress and instructing him that he 
must not base his defense upon any prospects of relief. 

The administrative staffs were unnecessarily complex and 
top heavy. There was, for this reason, a dearth of stability in 
the operations. Had the Commander of the Manchurian 
Army, the Viceroy and his staffs, and Stoessel and his staff 
been entirely eliminated from the control of the place, par- 
ticularly after the first interruption of the communications to 
the north, the history of the place would have missed a large 
amount of the adverse criticism which it now bears. The 
organization of the military forces of Port Arthur and the 
administration of the same would have been simple and, had 
the eliminations suggested herein been made, the remaining 
staff would have had some chance in the struggle in which it 
was engaged. 

The organization of mobile forces for field service is not, 
as a rule, adapted to fortress warfare. Their organization 
into divisions, brigades and regiments, mean nothing in 
closed fortresses where, in most cases, there is not room for 
maneuvers as organizations and where such maneuvers are 
useless. This is a matter which is more significant than may 
appear at first. The forces by the nature of the case are to 
be split up into small bodies, frequently not larger than a 
company and scarcely ever larger than a battalion, and the 
larger commands are simply an embarrassment to the place. 
Flexibility in such cases is fundamental and often reorganiza- 
tion upon a provisional basis becomes necessary. 



The commandant of a fortress should be selected especially 
for the particular case and should be a man who, in case of a 
siege, would not be deterred from doing his duty by poor or 
no prospects of being relieved by outside forces. In case of 
an interior fortress he should be a man experienced with troops 
and have a good practical knowledge of fortresses and their 
true functions in a given theater of operations, and, in case of 
maritime fortresses, must, in addition to the above general 
requirements, have a personal and practical knowledge ^of 
maritime and land operations and understand the true role 
of the fleet and be able to co-operate therewith. This last 
question came up on all occasions at Port Arthur when the 
two services came together; and the lack of such general 
understanding and the general inactivity of the fleet were 
prominent elements in the failure of the defense of the Kwang- 
tung and the collapse of all military operations therein. 

In the present controversy it is clear that the Commandant 
of the Fortified Zone was not a suitable person for the great 
but delicate mission entrusted to him. This becomes so 
apparent as one reviews the history of the siege that one is 
forced to the conclusion that his disposition, character, narrow- 
mindedness, and lack of sympathy with co-ordinate branches 
of the service, such as the navy, must have been known to the 
appointing authorities, and that such personal characteristics 
were serious disqualifications for such a command. 

The staff for an officer in command of such a station will 
and does in a general way suggest itself, and in the present 
case, if restricted to that of the fortress commandant, would 
have answered the requirements of the case. If, at any time, 
new or unusual duties should be required of the staff, a new 
member of the staff should be designated for that duty; and 
should the opposite effect be observed, a member should be 
relieved therefrom. Sufficient members are required on such 
a staff but not more; the matter should be adjusted by the 

Not counting the town and civil administrations, there 
were organized the following administrations of the fortress 

An engineer administration. 

An artillery administration. 

An intendant administration. 

A medical administration which was never wholly de- 


veloped. It was defective in not having a central organization 
and was decidedly deficient during the siege. In addition, 
there was the Commandant's personal aids and staff. A rear 
admiral was attached to Stoessel's staff and in his absence 
this officer should have been assigned to the staff of the Fortress 

The artillery was organized into batteries in the usual 
way, many of them were badly placed and were neutralized 
very quickly after the beginning of the bombardment and do 
not provide us with the information that otherwise would have 
been realized therefrom. This administration w^as also seri- 
ously affected by the failure of the telegraph and telephone 
lines, often at the most critical times and again we do not 
secure the valuable lessons that should have been presented. 

The infantry defense was divided into two fronts; the 
east and the west. Each front was divided into a number of 
sections which were commanded by officers of suitable rank 
directly responsible to the commanding officer of the land 
defense. These arrangements are the simplest and the usual 
methods of dividing up the commands. The section comman- 
ders were all connected with the commander of the land defense 
and had the intelligence lines been satisfactory the scheme 
would have been entirely acceptable, but the hostile shells 
cut the wires and knocked down the poles and interfered 
with its operation. The artillery line was also divided into 
two fronts and each of these into sections, but in some cases 
there were more divisions than the number of same in the 
infantry defense. The defects in the fire-control lines con- 
stantly interfered with the artillery fire. The Artillery Chief 
was reached only through a common switchboard connecting 
with other branches and messages had to follow party lines in 
many instances. The result of this was that at the most 
critical times orders to batteries could not be transmitted and 
failure to use the artillery was the result, at other times it 
was too late when actual connections were made and batteries 
received their orders. 

It has been impossible to include all of the smaller but 
interesting details connected with this question. There are 
many that throw additional light on the issues but they must 
be omitted and the facts included here restricted to the main 


The foregoing is ample to convey to the reader that there 
were many mistakes made before and during the great siege. 
For those made during the siege officers connected with the 
fortress were as a rule responsible. For the others many are 
responsible. When the errors are definitely stated they 
generally show, or at least suggest, the responsible person. 
To assist the reader in this part of the subject those which the 
writer believes were the important ones are enumerated under 


In this memorable siege it is easy to point out definitely 
many mistaken policies, deficiencies, and errors. Some of 
these refer to the antecedents of Port Arthur, some to the 
periods of preparation after the opening of hostilities, and the 
remainder to the time of actual investment and capitulation. 

The foregoing study reveals many short-comings of a 
national, material, military, administrative and personal 
nature, most of which with a reasonable amount of care and 
knowledge may be eliminated in the future. Those of a 
national and personal nature will be more difficult to treat 
and may be found intractable. The personal element should, 
with proper attention to selection of the commanding officer 
as to qualifications, of professional fitness, good judgment, 
clear and complete grasp of the situation, and high integrity 
obviate this particular trouble. In this connection, it must be 
remembered that the commandant of a fortress, which may 
be invested, can not be recalled should investment occur and 
it becomes evident that a mistake in his selection has been 
made. The question, therefore, of selecting a commandant 
for such a position is a complex matter and in fact the most 
important one connected with the subject. 

National characteristics existing at the time are not 
likely to be altered by the imminence of war, and if inefficient 
methods have been followed by the people up to that time 
nothing that can be done then will be likely to improve the 
situation. Anticipation of the difficulty and preparation 
beforehand are the only remedies. 

Disregarding the many small matters which influenced 
the fate of Port Arthur, the following seriously affected the 
result adversely and merit mature consideration. 


1. The conspicious absence of definite ideals as to the 
military problem of the Kwangtung Peninsula, and lack of 
national team work pertaining thereto. 

2. The rejection on account of cost of the scheme of 
fortification therefor, prepared and presented by expert 
engineers who had been over the ground and had carefully 
analyzed the conditions and requirements of the positions. 

3. The production and acceptance of a modified scheme 
of fortification selected by a commission made up of Cabinet 
Ministers who had never been on the ground and who had 
had no experience concerning questions of this character. 

4. The determination of any system of defense whose 
principal merit was embodied in low cost regardless of effi- 

5. The folly of spending enormous amounts for commer- 
cial structures and facilities at Dalni, within easy reach of an 
active and well known enemy, before substantial defensive 
works had become effective around Port Arthur. 

6. The folly of half-measures, in a case of such importance, 
thereby inviting attack and reduction of the place in a short 
time, to the confusion of general strategic plans. It would 
have been better not to have fortified at all. 

7. The reduction of limit of cost to such a low figure as 
to necessitate construction of inferior walls, parapets, and 
other structures. 

8. Slow and insufficient appropriations to execute, in 
a reasonable time, such defenses as were to constitute the 
approved project. 

9. Apparent indifference and neglect in reference to 
hastening the works and preparations in general. 

10. Under-estimation and contempt of the enemy. 

11. Under-estimation of the enemy's siege artillery and 
parks, and heavy ordnance that might be brought against 
the place, and making no allowance for improvements in 
ordnance for the ten years from 1894-1904 — making fortifi- 
cations only sufficient to withstand guns of the earlier date. 

12. Delay of the Viceroy in sending information of the 
highest importance to the high commanders, thereby leaving 
them in ignorance of the fact that diplomatic relations had 
been broken off on February 6, and the situation extremely 

13. Exchange of troops at Port Arthur, thereby filling 


positions with new men wholly ignorant of the country and 
the situation soon after the commencement of hostilities. 

14. Misconceptions as to the relations of the blockaded 
fortress to the Manchurian Army, pursuant to which the 
fortress was being used as a base for the army and drained of 
its men, armament, and supplies. 

15. Failure to collect supplies for a siege which was 
certain, and neglect of the opportunities to introduce same 
after the blockade, and during investment. 

16. Over-organization and excess of administrative staffs 
and too many high commanding officers present, 

17. Appointment of an officer over the commandant of 
the fortress, with undefined duties, in violation of orders and 
regulations devised for such cases, and the misunderstandings 
and trouble resulting therefrom. 

18. Unnecessary complexity of administration, 

19. Disagreement as to the right of command of the 

20. Failure of the supreme Commander of Fortress and 
Fortified Zone to maintain harmonious relations with the 
Chief of the Fleet, and at times antagonizing the same, 

21. Lack of co-operation between the army and the 
navy, and no system of command by which co-operation 
could be secured. 

22. No high-explosive shells for coast guns and serious 
deficiency in ammunition for field and other land defense guns 
of the fortress. 

23. Deficiency in guns for land defense necessitating 
removal of guns from the fleet, and use of obsolete guns 
taken from the Chinese in 1894. 

24. Efforts of authorities in St. Petersburg to satisfy 
demands for high-explosive shells for seacoast guns with 
theories as to the uselessness of using them. 

25. Insufficiency of docks, cranes, etc., for the fleet in 
the harbor, 

26. Shallow entrance to harbor necessitating delay of 
ships until high tide in order to go out or in, 

27. Ships going to sea to fight leaving some of their 
guns in the land defenses. 

28. Fleet commanded by officers who had never been in 
command of a squadron at sea. 

29. Officers in command of torpedoboats and destroyers 
who had never had any service on such vessels. 


30. Gross tactical blunders connected with the hostile 
landing near Pitsewo, at Kinchou, and in the retreat from the 
latter to Port Arthur. 

31. Instructions recommending the dismounting and re- 
moval to Port Arthur of guns mounted in works at Kinchou 
for fear they might be captured by the enemy. 

32. Relief of Stoessel from command of Port Arthur 
when he had shown himself incompetent, failure to compel 
him to comply with his orders, and permitting him, though 
known to be unreliable and incompetent, to control the 
fortress until he surrendered same prematurely on January 2, 

33. Fock's continued disregard of discipline in reference 
to writing memoranda and notes subversive of discipline, and 
final disregard of Smirnoff to whom he was directly sub- 

34. Defective intelligence lines within the fortress due 
to hasty erection after war began. 

35. Basing practically all military operations upon a 
proposed relief of the fortress, trying to control same from 
St. Petersburg and Headquarters of the Manchurian Army, 
instead of making thereof an independent command relying 
upon its own resources, and permitting operations connected 
with the fortress to dominate the military situation. 

In closing this discussion one's memory naturally runs 
back to the remarks made by the Minister of Foreign Affairs 
when the Commission of which he was a member was con- 
sidering the defensive project for the Kwangtung which had 
been submitted by a Board of Engineers, and which was cut 
down by the Commission and finally accepted in reduced, 
modified, and less costly form. In discussing the question of 
defense and particularly in speaking in favor of reduction in 
cost, he used the following words: 

One must not forget that the principal defense of Port Arthur — since 
the Russian flag has been raised there — does not depend on those troops 
and guns that may be there, but on the fact that all nations know that 
behind this place all Russia stands. 

In this case as in many others the old axiom asserted 
itself that the flag in itself does not defend a fortress or any 
other place and that it is valuable for this purpose only in 
proportion to the number of men and guns immediately avail- 
able. This axiom, however, in this as in other cases was 


passed by with closed eyes so that the glaring and unwelcome 
truth might not be seen. The place held out just in propor- 
tion to the number of men and guns available in the crisis 
and the preparation and organization that enabled them to 
act together. Yes, all Russia did stand behind Port Arthur 
but so very, very far behind, that the place fell before Russia 
could strike a single effective blow for its safety. 

List of Authorities Consulted 

History of the Russo-Japanese War. (Cassell.) 

Reports of U. S. Military Observers attached to the Armies 
in Manchuria. 

Official History of the Russo-Japanese War. (Committee of 
Imperial Defense.) 

Report upon the Russo-Japanese War. (Lieutenant-Com- 
mander McCully, U. S. N.) 

Report of the Russian General Staff. 

From Nanshan to Port Arthur. (Colonel Tretiajow.) 

The Defense of Port Arthur. (Von Schwartz and Romanovski.) 

Human Bullets. 
. The Principles of Land Defense. (Thuillier.) 

Modern Fortifications. (Clarke.) 

Revue du Genie Militaire. 

Rivista di Artiglieria e Genio. 

Memorial de Artilleria. 

Journal of the Royal United Service Institution of India. 

Influence of the Experience of the Siege of Port Arthur upon the 
Construction of Modern Fortresses. (Von Schwartz.) 

The Truth about Port Arthur. (Nojine.) 

The Great Siege, The Investment and Fall of Port Arthur. 

The Siege and Fall of Port Arthur. (Smith.) 

The Siege of Port Arthur. (James.) 

Port Arthur, the Siege and Capitulation. (Bartlett.) 

Journal of the United States Artillery. 

Proceedings of the U. S. Naval Institute. 

Journal of the U. S. Military Institution. 



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